One day, she sees the reflection ofSir Lancelot riding alone.

It contains the line which I havefound helpful, "He makes no friend whonever made a foe."However,Tennyson claimed he did not know the English version of thestory in 1832, when he wrote the first draft of the poem.

If you are approaching Tennyson's poem,

Among young people who made serious attempts andfailed, 99% said a year later that they are glad they failed.

-- my home base, 1969-1973.


The Pre-Raphaelites liked to illustrate it.

The farmers who live near her island hear her singing and knowwho she is, but never see her.

If you know the story from Dante, you remember thatUlysses and all his crew drowned.Here are some more interesting things to notice about "The Lady of Shalott":


Eventually a contriteLancelot became a man of God.

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."

Lancelot is the one who willreceive mercy.

Tennyson also explained,

The Lady of Shalott is evidently the Elaine of the , but I do not think that I had ever heard of thelatter when I wrote the former.

Leaving both caveand castle supposedlyresults in disaster.

The youngTennyson must have wondered whether he could hold to thesupposed contemporary standard for a single manrather than seeking out sexual relationships.

It would be below the water line.

He must have been afraid that choosing the latterwould ruin his morals and his writing.You can look at Tennyson's own life and letters and decide foryourself to what extent "The Lady of Shalott" reflects the hopesand fears of a young man who grew up bookish, super-smart, isolated,and probably repressed.You can also look at what others have said about the oldquestion of whether an artist or writer must be isolatedfrom the ordinary world.

One early reviewer pointed this out.

By contrast, Keatsdropped out of medical school to become a full-time poet,Coleridge was a passive man who became dependent on the good will of others to beable to continue his work,and Emily Dickinsonwas a recluse.