Come and sit by the fire and I shall read to you!
I shall light the fire and sit in the old armchair besides it. Though the hour is late, you may sit in the chair opposite me but be careful not to sit on the cat.
Shall I talk to you about the animals that live in our home for waifs and strays? Or shall I tell you a tale about the characters that live in Gusty Gully? If you’re in the mood for music then we could sing-along with the old guitar leaning against the piano. Or perhaps you would like to listen to some classical music or read poetry from one of the books on the shelf behind you.
On an evening like this, when I want to escape from the world, I like to read poetry by Lord Alfred Tennyson. He was born in 1809 and died in 1892 and during that time he wrote ‘The Lady of Shalott’, an old ballad and one of my favourites. If you don’t mind, then I shall read it to you, though I shall shorten it a little.
So get yourself comfortable and please use the blanket on the arm of your chair if you’re cold. I shall put another long on the fire and begin.
Close your eyes and imagine an island castle on a river that flows to Camelot. The mysterious Lady of Shalott lives alone in the castle and although many people pass by the river, no-one ever sees her. However, people working in the fields close by often hear her singing an eerie song.
The story tells of a curse being put on the Lady of Shalott and she must never look out of the window. So, instead, she watches people through a mirror as she weaves a magic web.
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
One day, the image of Sir Lancelot appears in the mirror and the Lady of Shalott is completely captivated. She breaks the rules and peers out of the window and sees Camelot and Sir Lancelot. The mirror cracks and she knows that she is doomed.
And so she leaves the tower and finds a boat to take her down the river to Camelot. But first, she writes her name on the boat, should anything happen to her then people would know who she was.
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
She dies, before arriving at the palace of Camelot. And among the ladies and knights that see her lying in her boat, is Sir Lancelot...
"Who is this? 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."
In memory of my dearest friend and all the hours we spent together reading poetry by the fire! I miss you!