The Lady of Shalott (1832) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, Tate Britain, 1888

Part I
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 II
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 III
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 armour 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 IV
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.’

Almost a beating heart

What is it really that thing that distincts the healthy hearts from the damaged ones? Is it the ability to beat? Or that they’ll bleed if you stab them? How far, I wonder, would the blood travel, if you use a big knife, like the ones butchers use to cut the meat? And would a smaller knife make the blood splash further? If the cut is smaller? Or does it need to be deep enough? And how much blood does a heat keep, once it’s not detached to the body? Maybe squashing an alive beating heart will give the most fulfilling sense.

Regarding a damaged one, these partially black ones from smoking, or with blocked arteries, I find it very hard to squash it. I pity them, that ended up in people’s chests that didn’t know -or even worse, didn’t want– to keep them safe and healthy. Thus I couldn’t even think of having them on my hands. I even find them a bit disgusting. Trying too hard to keep a normal heartbeat, even if they know they’re nothing but normal. And especially, this other damaged group, the ones that have developed structural problems from before the birth.

But what if I stop all the healthy ones and there are only the damaged ones left? Nah, this is not the issue. The issue arises when I realise, I cannot find not even a healthy one out there. Because who said that damage can only be seen with someone’s eyes? And secretly hidden ones are the most dangerous to exist… yet they exist. And they’re everywhere. And I’m also an owner of a damaged heart. And I don’t even know when it broke down, but now it’s too late to fix.

1 2 3

I was calling you, and kissing you, and begging you to come lay down next to me. To fill the empty, white sheets with your presence.
And you pushed me away once.
I cleaned my face, I cleaned my body, I caressed it with flowers to smell beautiful and tasty for you.
And you pushed me away twice.
I put on my very best smile and I kissed you again. And begged you. Oh, how much I begged you, as you had your eyes closed.
And you stood up and went to the other room.
Now you’re lying on the bed. And you didn’t even call once for me.
You pushed me away for the third time.
And my darling, no one can ignore this ruthless third time. 

When the sun chased the rain away

I love my country’s sun because it casts away gloomy thoughts and saves me from cloudy dreams and melodies. The sun warms up my pieces and makes my heart smile. Behind its warmth and shininess, lies this miserable fog that I keep most of the days away. Yet this paradox occurs and it feels like it always has done.

I long these far away trips, that end up in countries, dark and cold. I find comfort in relapse and at first, I enjoy it so much that I forget why I liked the sun in the first place. But suddenly when I realise what they’re drawing on the surface, I always rush to book my ticket back home. And I usually manage to be on time for my departure. And every single time, I watch out of the window as the plane is taking off. I wave goodbye to the coldness but I feel so broken hearted because I already know that I’ll miss it so much and I’ll regret my decision to go back.

Some people decide. Others let life decide for them. Some sleep on the ground, other find uncomfort in their comfortable beds. So here’s to you, my shiny blue sea and here’s to you my wonderful fog. I might see you again, but I’m not sure where I’d choose to stay.


Bus routes..

Όσο κι αν προσπαθώ να εκφραστώ σε μια γλώσσα που δεν μου ανήκει -και πολύ πιθανόν να μην γίνει ποτέ, ούτε στο ελάχιστο, δική μου- τόσο η σκληρή πραγματικότητα θα με χτυπά κατευθείαν στα μούτρα· θα είμαι πάντοτε ανάπηρη, μισή, τόσο λίγη. Τι κι αν πασχίζω να βρω ένα εισιτήριο για άλλους κόσμους, δεν μπορώ να υπερνικήσω τα εμπόδια, ούτε να ξεγελάσω τους σεναριοφύλακες. Τα όρια του κόσμου μου θα είναι αυτά και οποιαδήποτε προσπάθεια να ξεμακρύνω λιγάκι παραπάνω, κατα πάσα πιθανότητα, θα έχει μία αποκρουστική επίγευση στη γλώσσα. Σαν την επίγευση που μου αφήνει το καπνισμένο ουίσκι. Όμως αυτό κατάλαβα πως δεν μου ταιριάζει από το πρώτο sgriob στο άνω χείλος μου και το απέρριψα. Γιατί η εμμονη μου αυτή όμως με τις άλλες γλώσσες, με τους άλλους κόσμους, συνεχίζει να εμμένει; Γιατί χρειάζομαι τόσο αδηφάγα κι άλλους κόσμους να τριγυρίζω;

Ίσως φοβάμαι μην αρχίσω να μυρίζω αυτή τη μυρωδιά ναυθαλίνης και φαρμάκων που μυρίζουν συνήθως οι ηλικιωμένοι που μπαίνουν στο πρωινό μου λεωφορείο, πριν καν κλείσω τα 30. Όμως να τι κάνω εγώ, καθώς τους περιεργάζομαι. Κάθομαι στη γωνιά μου, σαν φοβισμένο σκυλί. Στην ίδια αυτή θέση πάνω από τη μηχανή. Τόσο άβολη και αποκρουστική. Γουργουρίζει καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια της διαδρομής και προς δυστυχία μου, η στάση μου είναι στο τέρμα. Έτσι έχω χρόνο να αραδιάσω όλες τις βδελυρές μου σκέψεις στο χαρτί, για να μην τις ουρλιάξω στον πρώτο που θα συναντήσω μπρος μου με το που κατέβω. Τόσο μάταιες όμως και τόσο άτακτα συγχροτισμένες στο χαρτί σαν κι εμένα, που σε λίγο θα κλείσω το τετράδιό μου και θα βγω από την αυτόματη πόρτα, για να μπω μονάχα στον κόσμο, μέχρι να πάρω το λεωφορείο του γυρισμού.

Θα συγχροτιστώ ανάμεσα σε αδιάφορα πρόσωπα που δεν συγκινούν την ψυχή μου και απλά προτάσουν μία συνειδητοποίηση που προσπαθώ να αγνοήσω και να θάψω βαθιά μέσα μου· είμαι ίσως λιγάκι πιο αδιάφορη από ολους εκείνους που καθημερινά χαιρετώ. Μόνο που η δική μου αδιαφορία κρύβεται στο τελευταίο από τα κουτιά δώρου που πουλάνε σε εκείνον τον δρόμο, που πάντοτε ξεχνώ το όνομά του. Και ο δικός μου φιόγκος έχει αλλάξει κι έχει γίνει κόμπος για να μην μπορεί να ανοίξει το περιεχόμενου του κουτιού, άμα δεν το κόψεις, ανεπιστρεπτί.

Ae Fond Kiss

by Robert Burns
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears   I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, naecheerfu’ twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.
I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy;
But to see her was to love her;
Love but her, and love forever.
Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted—
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.
Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace. enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears   I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!
[This indistinctive whisper caresses the ear of the sleeping girl, 
poems and wines and fears all mixed together in a very end, 
Kind shall be the lips that kiss one’s eyes goodbye 
Though deep might be the cries 
which covers these days with lies.]