The Lady Of Shalott

Album: The Visit (1991)
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Songfacts®:

  • The Lady Of Shalott is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). Running to 19 stanzas, it was written in 1832 and published 10 years later. It is believed to be based on the Arthurian legend of Elaine Of Astolat (also known as The Maid Of Astolat) who died of a broken heart for the unrequited love of a knight.

    With her fascination for all things Celtic and mythical, it is hardly surprising that Loreena McKennitt would have set it to music. Running to 11 minutes 34 seconds, it is the fourth track on the 1991 album The Visit. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Loreena McKennitt is Canadian, but immersed herself in Celtic tradition and often draws on poems for lyrics. In a Songfacts interview with McKennitt, she talked about this process.

    "Usually, I look at it and then if it's something I'm going to sing, I look at it for technical criteria," she said. "Does it work in terms of the cadence and are the words singable? Those kinds of things. Then I'm also looking for the imagery. When I think of 'The Lady Of Shalott,' there's stunning imagery. The words in that poem are very evocative and the cadence of it all can be sung. So once I've digested the imagery and sat with that for a while, then it would be like going fishing. I sit down and try to come up with some melodies, and sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. With that piece, and with many pieces, what it looks like at the end is not necessarily what it looks like at the beginning. You might add a minor section here or do various things like that, but I usually sit with the sentiment of the poem or the book for a while."

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