Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth


This is a typical poem from a poet who defined poetry as ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility. Its setting is quite interesting and panoramic- a high land lass in a vale profound reaping and singing according to the rhythm of her sickle bending. The picaresque depiction would immediately take the reader to the bounty of nature.

The poet was in the mountain region of Scotland. He saw a ‘highland lass’ working all alone in the field. She was reaping and binding the crops. She was bending over her sickle and singing a sad song in her  local Scottish dialect. The poet was watching all her activities silently but unnoticed.  The song had immediate effect on him. He stopped  there and listened to the song of the reaper with rapt attention. He stood spellbound by the magical voice of the reaper. The song had a bearing on the environment too. The whole deep valley was resounded with the music of the song and it was overflowing with it.

The poet could not understand the theme of the song as the reaper was singing  in her local Scottish dialect. Perhaps she sand about old unhappy things or of the past battles of of natural calamities, loss or pain. Whatever  was the theme, it didn’t matter. The poet found the song unique and sweeter and more thrilling  than the songs of the nightingale a and the cuckoo. The effect of the song on the poet was quite profound. it was not a transitory experience. The music of the song echoed in the heart of the poet long after it was heard no more.

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