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The Lady of Shalot is a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. Her destiny is to look at a reflection of the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and to
weave what she sees into an enchanted tapestry.
She is forbidden by the magic to ever look at the outside world directly. The farmers and villagers who live near her island hear her
singing and know who she is, but never see her.
The Lady sees the reflections of ordinary people, loving couples, and knights in pairs in her mirror. One day, she sees the reflection of Sir
Lancelot riding alone.
She realises more than ever how sick she is of her life, of seeing the world only through shadows and reflections.
Although she knows that it is forbidden, she can't help but look out the window directly at him. Suddenly the mirror shatters, the enchanted
tapestry flies off on the wind, and the Lady feels the full power of her curse.
An autumn storm arises. The lady leaves her castle, finds a boat, writes her name on it, climbs aboard and sets the boat adrift towards Camelot.
As she drifts, she chants a mournful song, dying as she sings. She arrives frozen to death.
The locals find the boat and the body, realize who she is, and are all saddened. Lancelot sees her too, and prays that God will have mercy on
"The Lady of Shalot" has most commonly been interpreted as a poem about the dilemma between art and life. What drives artists, writers, and
musicians to create their work which is at best 'reflections and shadows' of the real world? Why can't they simply learn to enjoy the
world by living in it?