Those of you who have read the poem know that it narrates the tale of a woman with a mysterious curse. She lives in a tower and weaves images on her loom without looking outside the window ever. Instead, she looks into a mirror from where she sees the reflections of the busy road and the people of Camelot which pass by her island.
At first she delights in her weaving, but as she begins to see life unfolding in front of her she starts to become discontent. Then comes a day when she sees the image of Sir Lancelot in a field below and falls in love. To take a glimpse of him, she looks out the window and casts her eyes on him. When she does that her mirror cracks and she knows that the curse has come upon her.
Instead of waiting for her fate to befall her, she rushes from the tower and finds a boat. She allows herself to float down to Camelot – just that moment she experienced true freedom. By the time she reaches Camelot and Lancelot finds her boat, she has died. “But Lancelot mused a little space; He said, “She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott”.
As I was reading the poem today, I had a different thought. I thought may be there’s a bit of lady of Shalott in me. This is not to dramatize but I felt many of us are like the lady of Shalott in some way or the other. Being trapped in a tower of our own making, we often refuse to connect to the real world and tend to become content that way.
We wait for that one or two moments to come in our lives when everything would change. It is then that we are no longer content to stay in the tower and watch the world pass by.
That moment comes in most of our lives when we stop existing and come alive – open to the world and feel the freedom – it can be a person or an occurrence or just anything that can make us feel this way . The Lady of Shalott didn’t have a happy ending in the traditional sense, but for me, her ride on the river, surrounded by the real world, was preferable to the one she spent inside the tower – in solitude. It gave her the eternal freedom. Sometimes it’s fair to take a chance and embark on a journey! Adios!