Willows whiten, aspens shiver.The sunbeam showers break and quiver

Call me bourgeois but I have a soft spot for Alfred Lord Tennyson and his overwrought contemporaries. The other night as the DH and I chatted, The Lady of Shallot came up in conversation, and soon we were trying to recall our favorite lines. Although we couldn’t complete even one couplet, we agreed that the poem returned a little romance to our decidedly humdrum lives, so I thought I would share a few stanzas and illustrations here.

You will recall that a curse required the Lady to weave all day and night. She was not allowed to look out the window toward Camelot but could only see it reflected in the mirror that hung by her loom.

Sidney H. Meteyard, c. 1913

‘I am half sick of shadows,’ said The Lady of Shallot, and then one day she saw Sir Lancelot in the mirror:  

Howard Pyle

Now we get to my favorite part. The Lady of Shallot jumps up from her weaving to get a better look:

John William Waterhouse

Here’s another interpretation by William Holman Hunt.

Things go badly wrong for her after she breaks the spell and leaves her chamber:

John William Waterhouse
Arthur Hughes
Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Finally, for a musical version, try Loreena Mckennitt:

Romance isn’t dead, but to find it you may have to look in the past.