Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

English: Tirra Lirra By the River

Find an array of resources to make your essays perfect!

Useful Links

Video: Texts in the City: Tirra Lirra by the River

This episode of Texts in the City looks at Jessica Anderson’s 1978 novel Tirra Lirra by the River with host Lili Wilkinson and author Rosalie Ham. An engaging analysis and discussion about the book, including how it related to Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott and Plato's Allegory of the Cave (see videos below for more on these ideas). Production Year: 2015. Duration: 43 mins.

Video: The Lady of Shalott - Loreena McKennitt

A beautiful adaption of Tennyson's poem - which is the origin of the phrase 'Tirra lirra by the river'.

Video: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

Twenty four hundred years ago, Plato, one of history’s most famous thinkers, said life is like being chained up in a cave forced to watch shadows flitting across a stone wall. Beyond sounding quite morbid, what exactly did he mean? Alex Gendler unravels Plato's Allegory of the Cave, found in Book VII of "The Republic."

Books available in the LRC

The Lady of Shalott (1842) - poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson

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;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
       The island of Shalott.
 
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for 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.
 
By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
       Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
       The Lady of Shalott?
 
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
       Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
       Lady of 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 to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
 

Read the full poem at The Poetry Foundation

The Lady of Shalott (1888) - Painting by John William Waterhouse

This Pre-Raphaelite painting illustrates the following lines from part IV of Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’:

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
 

For more information about the painting, visit Tate's page about The Lady of Shalott.