A list of unfamiliar words in Tennyson’s Gothic masterpiece
In his poem The Lady of Shalott Tennyson employs a number of unfamiliar or archaic terms. Many of these words are perfectly in keeping with the medieval setting of the piece, but they can sometimes prove challenging even to native English speakers. Here they are, listed in order of appearance, along with a brief explanation for each one.
Wold= rolling hills or woodland
Camelot= a legendary castle housing the knights of the grail.
Lilies= white flowers associated with Christian mysticism.
Shalott= a place inhabited by the lady of the poem. The island where her tower is situated.
Willows= trees often found near river banks or water and whose leaves are pale on the underside, especially in a breeze. ie. willows whiten.
Aspens= a type of poplar tree with light underside to its leaves.
Dusk= here the word is used as a verb to indicate movement from light to darker
Imbowers= encloses, shelters, contains. A bower is a green, peaceful and sheltered space located in a garden or forest.
Margin= the edge of the river.
Trailed= here, the verb 'trail' is used in the sense of pulling something along. The 'slow horses' are towing the barges, not following them.
Shallop= a shallow-draft boat suitable for river traffic.
Casement= tall, old-fashioned window that opens on a vertical hinge.
Reapers= farm labourers cutting grass or grain crops such as barley.
Sheaves= grain stalks or straw bundled together for storage or transport.
Weaving= the use of coloured threads to make decorative fabrics.
Stay = in this context, meaning to cease or to leave off from a specified activity.