The presence of "arras [tapestries] green and blue, showing a gaudy summer morn” in the palace's first room signifies the inescapable role of art and creative media in humans' perception of the world. Tennyson's questioning of the life of the artist lies at the foundation of both “The Palace of Art” and “The Lady of Shalott,” which were published together in the collection Poems. The inclusion of tapestries in “The Palace of Art” serves as a bridge to “The Lady of Shalott” and an intentional overlapping of content and themes between the two poems.
The Lady of Shalott creates her art at a forced distance from the society she depicts, and even then she can only participate in that world indirectly by translating what she sees through the mirror onto her loom:
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.
The artist in “The Palace of Art” chooses to sequester his soul in the palace as an escape and freedom from the mess of society, but—like the Lady of Shalott—she finds the removal and isolation unbearable and counterproductive to the creation of meaningful art. Click here to read the full essay.
Home | Next >