The Solitary Reaper By William Wordsworth

The Solitary Reaper By William Wordsworth : Critical Appreciation

Introduction :

The Poem “The Solitary Reaper” was written by William Wordsworth in 1804 and Published in 1807. This Poem is due to Wordsworth’s Highland tour with his sister Dorothy in 1803. Wordsworth classified it as a “Poem of Imagination”.

This Poem was suggested by a beautiful sentence in a ” Tour in Scotland ” Written by a Friend. The Sentence inspired wordsworths is ” I passed a female who was reaping alone, She sang in ease, as she bended over the Sickle, the sweetest human voice I ever heared : her song was melancholy, long after it was heard no more.”

Poet presents his experience when he was thrilled by a song sung by a reaper girl in Highland.

Theme :

In this Poem, Poet recalls an experience during a visit to the highland of Scotland. He saw a beautiful girl singing and reaping alone in her field. He was thrilled by the girl’s song. She sings a melancholy song. Her voice is contrasted with the voice of nightingle and the cuckoo. her song had no ending.

Poet did not understand what she was singing and what was the theme of her song. He thought that he song could be about some ordinary sorrow of day to day life disease, loss or death. But, Poet did not care about her song’s theme. The sweet melody of the girl’s song continued to resound his heart long after the girl had stopped singing.

Subject Matter :

When poet was going with his sister through the Highland. He saw a beautiful scene. Poet addresses a passer by to look at the beautiful Highland girl who is singing and reaping all alone in her field.

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Behold : see or observe – देखना या निहारना
  • solitary : Alone – अकेला
  • lass : Girl – लड़की
  • Reaping : cut or harvest – कटाई

Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Melancholy strain : Sad tune or melody -उदासीपूर्ण तनाव / राग
  • Vale profound : Deep Valley – गहरी घाटी

The song of Highland girl is sweeter than nightingle’s song who sings welcome note to tired travellers in Arabian desert.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Welcome notes : Welcome Music – स्वागत गान
  • Weary bands : Tired travelers of the caravan – कारवां के थके यात्री
  • Shady haunt : A place surrounded by trees – पेड़ों से घिरा एक स्थान / छायादार स्थान
  • Arabian sands : the deserts of Arabia. – अरब का रेगिस्तान

The song of girl is sweeter than Cuckoo’s song who sings in spring time breaking silence of seas of Hebrides.

A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Thrilling : excitement – रोमांचकारी / उत्साहपूर्ण
  • Farthest hebrides : the most remote group of islands in north-west of Scotland – स्कॉटलैंड के उत्तर-पश्चिम में द्वीपों का सबसे दूरस्थ समूह

Thus, Poet contrasts girl’s sweet song or voice with the song of nightingle and cuckoo. Poet thinks of theme of song of girl what she sings. He makes idea that this song is melancholic and she is singing about deadly battles or common sorrow of ordinary life. It may be patriotic song.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:

Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Plaintive numbers : sad songs with a melancholic tune – एक उदास धुन के साथ दुखद गीत
  • Humble lay : ordinary / Common song – साधारण / सामान्य गीत

Poet thinks that he needs not to know the theme of girl’s song. He is thrilled by the melody of her song. The song of girl is endless. It appears that girl will go on singing forever.

Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Theme : Subject Matter / the subject of a talk – विषय वस्तु
  • Maiden : A young unmarried girl / woman – एक अविवाहित लड़की / महिला

The sweet melody of girl’s song continued to resound his heart long after the girl had stopped singing. Because, He had heard this sweet song motionlessly and left the valley and went up the
hill when the girl stopped singing. He was full of thrill of song of girl.

I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Word meaning and Explanation :

  • Sickle : A tool for cutting Crops – फसल काटने का एक औजार / दरांती
  • Mounted : Climbed – चढ़ गया
  • In my heart I bore : Stayed in his heart for a long time – लंबे समय तक उसके दिल में रहा

Meter / Metre :

The rhyme scheme of this poem is ABAB CCDD but the rhyme scheme of last stanza is different. it is a short poem of 32 lines.

Behold her, single in the field, – A
Yon solitary Highland Lass! B
Reaping and singing by herself; A
Stop here, or gently pass! B

Alone she cuts and binds the grain, C
And sings a melancholy strain; C
O listen! for the Vale profound D
Is overflowing with the sound. D

few lines are Onomatopoeia which means the pronounciation of sense. For example :
Breaking the silence of the seas, Among the furthest hebrides; “

His poetic use of Nature :

Wordsworth was great lover of nature. Wordsworth believes that the plan of Nature is holy and pure. He thinks that man can find in nature an endless source of educative, Moral and spiritual influence. But, It is possible only when he gives time to the beauty of Nature.

Wordsworth believes that there is harmony between Nature’s soul and man’s soul. If people manage this harmony, They can live a happy life. According to wordsworth Nature is not only alive but has a personality. She gives to everything flower, valley, hill. for him nature is ” Wisdom and spirit of Universe.

Use of Similes :

Wordsworth’s Poem is full of Similes. He uses words like “like” such he compares girl’s song with Nightingle’s Song and Cuckoo’s song.

Conclusion :

Thus, This is a wonderful poem which presents or expresses the thrill of Poet’s heart. He shares his views through this poem about his Highland journey. We have the feeling of great universality after reading this poem.

There is a sense of human dignity and joy as symbolized by solitary girl. The Sweet song of girl continued to resound Poet’s heart after the girl had stopped singing. The poem is remarkable for its musical lines and its picturesqueness.

According to Hazlitt :

” One can infer that wordsworth’s Poetry was written in Mountainous Country from its barness.
Its simplicity, its loftiness and its depth.”

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