The Lady of Shalott (Tennyson)

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The Lady of Shalott, William Holman Hunt
The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot, de dame draait zich op dit schilderij om, achter haar breekt de spiegel, John William Waterhouse
I am half-sick of shadows, said the Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse, 1916
The Lady of Shalott, Henry Meynell Rheam
The Lady of Shallot, William Holman Hunt
Elaineor, The Lily Maid of Astolat, Sophie Anderson, 1870
The Lady of Shalott, Arthur Hughes
The Lady of Shalott, W. E. F. Britten, 1901

"The Lady of Shalott" is een in 1833 gepubliceerd gedicht van Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892). Net als "Sir Lancelot en Queen Guinevere" en "Galahad" is ook dit gedicht losjes op de Arthurlegende gebaseerd. Shalott is de verengelste naam van het Italiaanse Donna di Scalotta.

Er bestaan twee versies van het gedicht: het origineel uit 1833 met twintig stanza's en een versie uit 1842 met negentien stanza's.

De legende van Elaine van Astolat zoals verhaald in een dertiende-eeuwse Italiaanse novelle met de titel Donna di Scalotta (No. lxxxi in de bundel Cento Novelle Antiche.[1] Tennyson legde de nadruk op de opsluiting in de toren en haar door hem aan de legende toegevoegde besluit om haar isolement koste wat het kost te verbreken.[2]

De betoverde naamloze edelvrouw zit met haar rug naar het raam in een door water omringde toren aan haar weefgetouw. Zij weet dat zij de werkelijkheid, waaronder het nabijgelegen Camelot, alleen in de spiegel mag aanschouwen. Zo zij uit het raam zou kijken zou de betovering worden verbroken en haar noodlot, in het gedicht onbenoemd, maar het betreft een vroege dood, vervuld worden. Wanneer zij in de spiegel de onweerstaanbaar knappe Lancelot voorbij ziet rijden kan zij zich niet langer beheersen. De spiegel breekt op het ogenblik dat zij naar buiten kijkt.

De dame laat zich in het gedicht van Tennyson op een boot naar Camelot drijven. Onderweg sterft zij.

De autograaf van het gedicht is in Tennysons eigen handschrift bewaard gebleven en berust in de verzameling manuscripten in de bibliotheek van het Trinity College van de Universiteit van Cambridge[3].

Het gedicht[bewerken]

Dit is de eerste, in 1833 gepubliceerde versie van het gedicht.


 On either side the river lie
 Long fields of barley and of rye,
 That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
 And thro' the field the road runs by
 To many-tower'd Camelot;
 The yellow-leaved waterlily
 The green-sheathed daffodilly
 Tremble in the water chilly
 Round about Shalott.

 Willows whiten, aspens shiver.
 The sunbeam showers break and quiver
 In the stream that runneth ever
 By the island in the river
 Flowing down to Camelot.
 Four gray walls, and four gray towers
 Overlook a space of flowers,
 And the silent isle imbowers
 The Lady of Shalott.

 Underneath the bearded barley,
 The reaper, reaping late and early,
 Hears her ever chanting cheerly,
 Like an angel, singing clearly,
 O'er the stream of Camelot.
 Piling the sheaves in furrows airy,
 Beneath the moon, the reaper weary
 Listening whispers, ' 'Tis the fairy,
 Lady of Shalott.'

 The little isle is all inrail'd
 With a rose-fence, and overtrail'd
 With roses: by the marge unhail'd
 The shallop flitteth silken sail'd,
 Skimming down to Camelot.
 A pearl garland winds her head:
 She leaneth on a velvet bed,
 Full royally apparelled,
 The Lady of Shalott.

Part the Second.[bewerken]


 No time hath she to sport and play:
 A charmed web she weaves alway.
 A curse is on her, if she stay
 Her weaving, either night or day,
 To look down to Camelot.
 She knows not what the curse may be;
 Therefore she weaveth steadily,
 Therefore no other care hath she,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 She lives with little joy or fear.
 Over the water, running near,
 The sheepbell tinkles in her ear.
 Before her hangs a mirror clear,
 Reflecting tower'd Camelot.
 And as the mazy web she whirls,
 She sees the surly village churls,
 And the red cloaks of market girls
 Pass onward from Shalott.

 Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
 An abbot on an ambling pad,
 Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
 Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
 Goes by to tower'd Camelot:
 And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
 The knights come riding two and two:
 She hath no loyal knight and true,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 But in her web she still delights
 To weave the mirror's magic sights,
 For often thro' the silent nights
 A funeral, with plumes and lights
 And music, came from Camelot:
 Or when the moon was overhead
 Came two young lovers lately wed;
 `I am half sick of shadows,' said
 The Lady of Shalott.

Part the Third.[bewerken]


 A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
 He rode between the barley-sheaves,
 The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
 And flam'd upon the brazen greaves
 Of bold Sir Lancelot.
 A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
 To a lady in his shield,
 That sparkled on the yellow field,
 Beside remote Shalott.

 The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
 Like to some branch of stars we see
 Hung in the golden Galaxy.
 The bridle bells rang merrily
 As he rode down from Camelot:
 And from his blazon'd baldric slung
 A mighty silver bugle hung,
 And as he rode his arm our rung,
 Beside remote Shalott.

 All in the blue unclouded weather
 Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
 The helmet and the helmet-feather
 Burn'd like one burning flame together,
 As he rode down from Camelot.
 As often thro' the purple night,
 Below the starry clusters bright,
 Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
 Moves over green Shalott.

 His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
 On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
 From underneath his helmet flow'd
 His coal-black curls as on he rode,
 As he rode down from Camelot.
 From the bank and from the river
 He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
 'Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:'
 Sang Sir Lancelot.

 She left the web, she left the loom
 She made three paces thro' the room
 She saw the water-flower bloom,
 She saw the helmet and the plume,
 She look'd down to Camelot.
 Out flew the web and floated wide;
 The mirror crack'd from side to side;
 'The curse is come upon me,' cried
 The Lady of Shalott.

Part the Fourth.[bewerken]


 In the stormy east-wind straining,
 The pale yellow woods were waning,
 The broad stream in his banks complaining,
 Heavily the low sky raining
 Over tower'd Camelot;
 Outside the isle a shallow boat
 Beneath a willow lay afloat,
 Below the carven stern she wrote,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 A cloudwhite crown of pearl she dight,
 All raimented in snowy white
 That loosely flew (her zone in sight
 Clasp'd with one blinding diamond bright)
 Her wide eyes fix'd on Camelot,
 Though the squally east-wind keenly
 Blew, with folded arms serenely
 By the water stood the queenly
 Lady of Shalott.

 With a steady stony glance--
 Like some bold seer in a trance,
 Beholding all his own mischance,
 Mute, with a glassy countenance--
 She look'd down to Camelot.
 It was the closing of the day:
 She loos'd the chain, and down she lay;
 The broad stream bore her far away,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 As when to sailors while they roam,
 By creeks and outfalls far from home,
 Rising and dropping with the foam,
 From dying swans wild warblings come,
 Blown shoreward; so to Camelot
 Still as the boathead wound along
 The willowy hills and fields among,
 They heard her chanting her deathsong,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 A longdrawn carol, mournful, holy,
 She chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
 Till her eyes were darken'd wholly,
 And her smooth face sharpen'd slowly,
 Turn'd to tower'd Camelot:
 For ere she reach'd upon the tide
 The first house by the water-side,
 Singing in her song she died,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 Under tower and balcony,
 By garden wall and gallery,
 A pale, pale corpse she floated by,
 Deadcold, between the houses high,
 Dead into tower'd Camelot.
 Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
 To the planked wharfage came:
 Below the stern they read her name,
 The Lady of Shalott.

 They cross'd themselves, their stars they blest,
 Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
 There lay a parchment on her breast,
 That puzzled more than all the rest,
 The wellfed wits at Camelot.
 'The web was woven curiously,
 The charm is broken utterly,
 Draw near and fear not,--this is I,
 The Lady of Shalott.'


Dit is de in 1842 gepubliceerde versie.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road run by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
The Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

Andere kunstwerken met deze titel[bewerken]

De Lady of Shalott heeft, behalve in de muziek en de beeldende kunst, ook in de literatuur sporen nagelaten.

  • Agatha Christie schreef een detective met de titel "The mirror cracked".
  • Loreena McKennitt heeft het gedicht uit 1842 omgezet in een lied.
  • The Band Perry met hun lied "If I Die Young". In hun videoclip worden meerdere verwijzingen gemaakt naar het gedicht van Alfred Tennyson.

Literatuur[bewerken]

  • Fogelman, Pegga A. Ladies of Shalott: A Victorian Masterpiece and its Contexts. Ed. George P. Landow. Brown University: 1985. p. 158.
  • Houfe, Simon. The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800 — 1914 Woodbridge, Suffolk: Baron Publishing, 1978.
  • Life, Allan Roy. "Art and Poetry: A Study of the Illustrations of Two Pre-Raphaelite Artists, William Hoiman Hunt and John Everett Millais." Ph.D. diss., University of British Columbia, 1974.
  • Rossetti, William Michael. Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters. Boston: Roberts Bros., 1895.
  • Poems by Alfred Tennyson, D.C.L., Poet Laureate. London: E. Moxon, 1857.

Externe links[bewerken]

Bronnen, noten en/of referenties
  1. Potwin, L.S. (December 1902). The Source of Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott. Modern Language Notes 17 (8): 237–239 . DOI:10.2307/2917812. Geraadpleegd op 2008-01-06.
  2. Zanzucchi, Anne. The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester: Alfred Lord Tennyson Geraadpleegd op 2008-01-10
  3. Day Ricks, "The Tennyson Archive: The Manuscripts at Trinity College", Cambridge: Notebooks 37SH40 & Miscellaneous Manuscripts 1988