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Shadows in the Light
'There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.'
Day in and day out, all she ever sees are shadows. Dancing across the walls, across the mirrors, all she ever dared to dream of were ghosts. Nothing was real, nothing was certain; everything distorted, faded. And still she weaved, spinning out the flickers and dreaming of a steady, true, clear image...
Like the man in Plato's cave, she doesn't particularly want to see things clearly. All she knows are the shadows, and that is all she is comfortable with. She knows that if she ever turns around, something horrible happens, be it death or madness.
She has a lovely vision. Something about only seeing a marred reflection makes the images that you bring into the world all the softer, more beautiful. She was born to be an artist, and an artist she will stay.
That is, until the day that the Lady of Shalott decides that she is half-sick of shadows, and turns around.
And Elaine of Astolat gazes upon the fairest man in all of Camelot, a valiant knight who's far from perfect but, oh, so clear in her vision. Colors, bright and vivid. Lines, clear and sharp. A quality of vision that she has never seen before.
She can't go back to the shadows, now that she has seen the light. And she knows more than anyone that that man's heart will never belong to her. How could it? The whole world knows that it belongs to Guenevere.
She tries to turn back to the shadows, but she can't. Day in and day out, she tries to weave the shadows again, but something was lost. And then she tries to weave the light, and she cries.
Because it's so much more than she ever dreamed it could be. So clear. She can't create anything so beautifully, painfully clear as that knight, traveling along the road as the sunbeams fall on his silver armor.
The Lady of Shalott was sick of shadows. Now she can't bear the light, and she falls into complete darkness, numbing and cold and black, blissfully at peace.
'She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily 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.'