The address refers to the Arthurian heroine Elaine of Astollat, otherwise known as Shalott (that's an island, not an onion). In some stories, Elaine was cursed to dwell in her island bower unable to look out at the world outside her windows. In other stories, she was just a homebody, well-loved by her noble father and brave brothers. In both, she happens to fall in love with Lancelot who already loves Guinevere but admires Elaine more than all others regardless of his preference for married women. In all Elaine narratives, she dies of unrequited love - a mysterious illness that frequently infects poetic figures. Tennyson's two accounts of the story are my favourites. In his poem 'The Lady of Shalott', he implies that Elaine's death was not caused by her love, but by her longing to escape. She is trapped in her mirror-existence, only able to view the world through reflections - never through experience. Thus, when her dead body floats down to Camelot and Lancelot sees her lying pale and cold at the bottom of the boat, he simply observes, 'She has a lovely face. God in his mercy lend her grace.' Kind words for a stranger, signifying that the relationship between them was entirely a matter of Elaine's imagination. The world in Elaine's mirror in unreliable - it is her own vision of things, distanced from real experience, real relation. Her love of Lancelot is arbitrary - he is a traveler to Camelot, the city of her dreams, and she has placed upon his image all of her desires to escape her own walled-in existence.
Of course, it's also a nice melodramatic poem, good for Anne Shirley pageantries and long strolls through birch woods. I chose to use it for the blog because it represents the importance of point of view, of the distinctions between those who travel and those who remain - of which I am both, and of experiencing the world not through observations of cities or accounts of journeys so much as through individual interaction.