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Ballads: 'The Lady of Shalott' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

In this worksheet, students explore poetry through the ballad form by reading 'The Lady of Shalott' by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Meaning

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet is based on a ballad by Alfred Lord Tennyson called 'The Lady of Shalott' (1833). It is set in medieval times and tells the story of the Lady of Shalott who is locked in a tower because of a curse.

 

Old fortress in the ancient city of Ghent, Belgium - stock photo

 

 

******************

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.'

 

******************

Part I of the ballad sets the scene and creates an image in the reader's mind. Read this part and then imagine you had to draw the castle and its setting. Select the five correct details you would include from the list below.

 

******************

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.

 

******************

rye fields

wheat fields

barley fields

castle with lots of towers

castle with one large tower

moat with waterlilies

pond

daffodils

Which two words below do you think best describe the Lady of Shalott's world?

peaceful

exciting

isolated

busy

Part II of the poem explains how the Lady of Shalott spends her days. Reread this part and then answer the question.

 

******************

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.

 

******************

 

 

What is she not allowed to do?

weave

look out the window at Camelot

sing

In Part II what do we learn that the Lady of Shalott does all day?

 

UNITED KINGDOM - CIRCA 1992: A stamp printed in United Kingdom shows The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, circa 1992 - stock photo

sings

looks at herself in the mirror

weaves what she sees reflected in her mirror

Tennyson makes the outside world of Camelot seem exciting and vibrant to the Lady of Shalott who is shut in her tower. He does this through his choice of language.

Tick the three ways in which Tennyson makes Camelot seem exciting.

The villagers wear exciting red clothes.

The poet lists all the many different things she sees in the mirror.

The poet describes her room as being like a funeral.

The Lady of Shalott says that her world is just 'shadows' compared to the real world.

In Part III The Lady of Shalott spies Sir Lancelot in her mirror. The poet describes him as highly attractive to the eye. He does this through his language by describing Sir Lancelot as glittering.

What does he cause The Lady of Shalott to do?

 

******************

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.

 

******************

faint

leave her weaving and rush to the window

sing in delight

The poet includes lots of rich description of Sir Lancelot. Match the descriptions below.

Column A

Column B

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, Like...
one burning flame together,
The helmet and the helmet-feather Burn'd like...
to some branch of stars we see Hung in the golden ...

What technique is Tennyson using in these descriptions?

 

******************

"The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,

Like to some branch of stars we see

Hung in the golden Galaxy."

 

"The helmet and the helmet-feather

Burn'd like one burning flame together"

 

******************

simile

metaphor

personification

What happens when the Lady of Shalott looks directly at Sir Lancelot?

She falls in love.

She faints.

The mirror cracks and the curse hits her.

In the final part of the poem, the Lady of Shalott is affected by the curse. What does she do?

 

silhouette of a girl in a boat - stock photo

She goes to a boat and sails to another land.

She goes to the boat and dies.

  • Question 1

Part I of the ballad sets the scene and creates an image in the reader's mind. Read this part and then imagine you had to draw the castle and its setting. Select the five correct details you would include from the list below.

 

******************

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.

 

******************

CORRECT ANSWER
rye fields
barley fields
castle with lots of towers
moat with waterlilies
daffodils
EDDIE SAYS
Details you would include would be rye fields, barley fields, a castle with lots of towers, a moat with waterlilies and daffodils.
  • Question 2

Which two words below do you think best describe the Lady of Shalott's world?

CORRECT ANSWER
peaceful
isolated
EDDIE SAYS
The words that best describe the Lady of Shalott's world are 'peaceful' and 'isolated'.
  • Question 3

Part II of the poem explains how the Lady of Shalott spends her days. Reread this part and then answer the question.

 

******************

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.

 

******************

 

 

What is she not allowed to do?

CORRECT ANSWER
look out the window at Camelot
EDDIE SAYS
She is not allowed to look out the window at Camelot.
  • Question 4

In Part II what do we learn that the Lady of Shalott does all day?

 

UNITED KINGDOM - CIRCA 1992: A stamp printed in United Kingdom shows The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, circa 1992 - stock photo

CORRECT ANSWER
weaves what she sees reflected in her mirror
EDDIE SAYS
The lady of Shalott weaves what she sees reflected in her mirror.
  • Question 5

Tennyson makes the outside world of Camelot seem exciting and vibrant to the Lady of Shalott who is shut in her tower. He does this through his choice of language.

Tick the three ways in which Tennyson makes Camelot seem exciting.

CORRECT ANSWER
The villagers wear exciting red clothes.
The poet lists all the many different things she sees in the mirror.
The Lady of Shalott says that her world is just 'shadows' compared to the real world.
EDDIE SAYS
Tennyson makes Camelot seem exciting by describing the villagers wear exciting red clothes, listing all the many different things she sees in the mirror and the Lady of Shalott says that her world is just 'shadows' compared to the real world.
  • Question 6

In Part III The Lady of Shalott spies Sir Lancelot in her mirror. The poet describes him as highly attractive to the eye. He does this through his language by describing Sir Lancelot as glittering.

What does he cause The Lady of Shalott to do?

 

******************

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.

 

******************

CORRECT ANSWER
leave her weaving and rush to the window
EDDIE SAYS
He causes her to leave her weaving and rush to the window.
  • Question 7

The poet includes lots of rich description of Sir Lancelot. Match the descriptions below.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, ...
to some branch of stars we see Hu...
The helmet and the helmet-feather...
one burning flame together,
EDDIE SAYS
"The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy."

"The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,"
  • Question 8

What technique is Tennyson using in these descriptions?

 

******************

"The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,

Like to some branch of stars we see

Hung in the golden Galaxy."

 

"The helmet and the helmet-feather

Burn'd like one burning flame together"

 

******************

CORRECT ANSWER
simile
EDDIE SAYS
The poet is using similes.
  • Question 9

What happens when the Lady of Shalott looks directly at Sir Lancelot?

CORRECT ANSWER
The mirror cracks and the curse hits her.
EDDIE SAYS
When the Lady of Shalott looks directly at Sir Lancelot, the mirror cracks and the curse hits her.
  • Question 10

In the final part of the poem, the Lady of Shalott is affected by the curse. What does she do?

 

silhouette of a girl in a boat - stock photo

CORRECT ANSWER
She goes to the boat and dies.
EDDIE SAYS
As a result of the curse the Lady of Shalott sails away in a boat and dies.
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