The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Lady Of Shallot

The lady of shallot is a poem by Alfred Tennyson, based on the Arthurian legend of morte d' arthur by Thomas Mallory.

the poem begins with the setting being laid out by the first stanza:

On either side the river lie
long fields of barley and of rye
that clothe the wold and meet the sky;
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 shallot

this stanza sets out the land that the poem is based upon, with large fields and a river surrounding the city of Camelot, the repetition of "to many tower'd Camelot" shows that everyone knows of Camelot and often travel there, while the contrast of the many towers of Camelot and the island of shallot being described as "below" could possibly be a metaphor for heaven and earth.

the next stanza includes a description of the island of shallot

Four Gray walls, and four Gray towers
overlook a space of flowers
and the silent isle imbowers
the lady of shallot

the use of four Gray walls and four Gray towers, dulls your sense of colour, and seems boring and monotonous, the word "space" used in the next line shows emptiness in the island save for a few flowers in the middle, while silence shows the lack of action in the castle. this drastically contrasts with the image we receive of Camelot, everything seems to be moving;

willows whiten, aspens quiver
little breezes dusk and shiver
thro' the wave that runs for ever
by the island in the river
flowing down to Camelot;

The fact that everything seems to be moving even the slightest breeze, adds the sense of feeling that Camelot is a happy place, full of action and movement, and the word "by" insinuates that even the wave wants to avoid the island of shallot

Throughout the poem we notice huge amounts of contrast between both Camelot and shallot, but they are always linked together through the rhyme scheme of A, A, A, A, B, C, C, C, B
with Camelot and shallot linked so closely we are forced as the reader to analyse their differences and compare how we view them from different points of view.

1 comment:

  1. Always one of my favorite paintings from Waterhouse, truly haunting and poignant.