What does Tirra Lirra mean?

The words Tirra Lirra are whimsical words first published in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale: ACT IV Scene III‘.  Tirra Lirra also appears in a poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1833 which was loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat.

In the television adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Anne Shirley reads various stanzas of the poem and acts out the Lady of Shalott’s tragic end as she floats down the river.

This poem is mentioned in one episode of ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple‘, called ‘The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side‘: the name of the episode is taken directly from that line in the poem.

Many artists have created their vision of characters from The Lady of Shalott. This painting was by John William Waterhouse.  The The Lady of Shalott was donated to the public by Sir Henry Tate in 1894 and hangs in the Tate Gallery, London.

The Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt adapted Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem to music, and featured it on her 1991 album, The Visit.

Read the Poem The Lady of Shalott
Hear the Song The Lady of Shalott