Explanation of Poem The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth
Explanation of Poem The Solitary Reaper
Lines 1 – 4
In these lines the poet tells us about a young girl of Scotland. He tells us to look at the girl who is reaping grain and also singing a sweet song. He advises the passerby to stop short and listen to her song or pass very silently by her, so that she is not disturbed.
Lines 5 – 8
The poet says that the highland girl cuts and binds the grain in sheaves. She is also singing a sad song. She is very busy in her song as well as her work. The poet once again advises the passerby to listen to her song. He says that the whole deep valley is echoing with her sweet song. The whole dale is listening to her sweet voice. We should also listen to her song and enjoy it.
Lines 9 – 12
In the given lines the poet compares the sweet voice of the girl to that of a nightingale.
Nightingale is considered a sweet-voice bird. The poet says no nightingale has so far sung as melodious a song as the girl sings. When some group of tired travelers reaches a shady place, in the Arabian deserts, the nightingale welcomes the caravan with its sweet song. It is obvious that commonly there is no nightingale in the deserts. But if there is some oasis, it is but natural that a nightingale is found there. So when a tired caravan reaches any oasis or shrubby area the nightingale welcomes it. The poet says that the voice of the singing girl is rather sweeter than that of a nightingale.
Lines 13 – 16
These lines show a comparison between the song of the girl and the song of the cuckoo. He says that such a sweet voice was never heard from the cuckoo even in the spring season. The song of cuckoo is always very sweet but the voice of the girl, who was singing, was sweeter than the cuckoo’s. The voice of the girl was so sweet that it broke the silence of the seas and of the far off islands on north-western coast of Scotland. These islands are never disturbed by any storm but the voice of the girl intruded into the silence of this group of islands. This was because of the praiseworthy song of the girl which even affected the seas.
Lines 17 – 20
In these lines the poet tells us about the language of the song. He does not understand the alien language of the song. He says will no one tell him the meaning of the song of the girl. He says that perhaps the girl is singing some sad song of the past. He guesses the language and the meaning of the song. Perhaps the girl is singing some unhappy song or singing about events that have taken place in the past. Perhaps she is singing about battles which have been fought in the far off past.
Lines 21 – 24
These lines are also an expression of the un-understandable language of the song. The poet again guesses at the theme. Perhaps she is singing a simple song on some ordinary matter of the present age. Perhaps she is singing simple sorrow of loss or of some misery. May be she is singing for the lover who has jilted her. Probably, the incident of loss or pain has taken place in the past and it may be experienced again in future.
Lines 25 – 28
These lines also show that the poet did not know the theme of the song. He says whatever theme she sang, irrespective of that, it seemed that the song of the young girl would not come to an end. The poet says that he saw the girl busy at her work and also singing while reaping with a sickle in bent motion.
Lines 29 – 32
These are the concluding lines of the poem. The poet says that first he listened to her song standing still and motionless. But as he mounted up the hill of Scotland, the tune of the song was so sweet that it struck the heart of the poet. He was so impressed that he carried, the melody of the song with him long after the song was ended by the girl.
Actually, the poet, being a poet of nature, was profoundly impressed by this natural scene. He remembered this song for its natural melodious effect.
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