The Solitary Reaper

English Poems Index

The Solitary Reaper :

Behold her, single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland lass!

Reaping and singing by herself;

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.

No nightingale did ever chant

More welcome notes to weary bands

Of travellers in some shady haunt.

Among Arabian sands;

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.

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?

Same natural sorrow, loss, or pain,

that has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang

As if her song could have no ending;

1 saw her singing at her work,

And o'er the sickle bending;

I listen'd, motionless and still

And, as I mounted up the hill,

The Music in my heart 1 bore,

Long after it was heard no more.

By William Wordsworth

About The Poet :

William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770, in Cockermouth in the Lake District : England. When many poets still wrote about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, Wordsworth focused on nature, children, the poor, common people and used ordinary words to express his feelings. He defined poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" arising from "emotion recollected in tranquillity". He died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850.

Words to Know :

Highland Lass : a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland

Reaping : cutting down and gathering a crop such as com or rice

Melancholy strain : sad song

Vale profound : deep valley

Arabian Sands : the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)

Farthest Hehrides : the most remote group of islands that lie to the north-west of Scotland

Plaintive : numbers: sad music

Humble lay : ordinary song

Sickle : a tool for cutting grass and grain crops. It has a short handle and a blade shaped like a hook.

English Poems Index

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