literature women // elaine of astolat

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.


Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Idylls of the King by Tennyson, 1913, via Art of Narrative. Read here.

The Arthurian Tale of Elaine of Astolat, Lady of Shalott

laine the Fair, the Lady of Shalott, comes down through Arthurian legend with seemingly only one purpose: to love Lancelot and, in doing so, reveal his undying affection for the queen of Camelot, Guinevere.  However, the extensive number of retellings of her story, seemingly beginning in the thirteenth century novel Il Novellino by Italian author Masuccio Salernitano, emphasize that her tale has far more depth.  Beyond a realization in Lancelot’s love for Guinevere, Elaine represents Arthurian purity, honor, and the power wounded women can wield.

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The complete poetical works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Poet Laureate.
New York.
Harper & Brothers, Publishers.
Franklin Square.

The Lady of Shalott

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ 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.


Au Merlin video about Elaine of Shalott and Lancelot.