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what is the summary of the poem \'solitary reaper\' ?

Asked by Shibai Dash(student) , on 25/8/13


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William Wordsworth 's The Solitary Reaper, a short lyrical ballad, conveys the theme of ironic beauty of melancholy over more positive feelings such as joy projected through the song of a highland lass. Composed of thirty two lines and divided into four stanzas, the poem is dominated by one central figure, a highland girl standing alone in a field harvesting grain. The poem is written in the first person and can be classified as pastoral, describing a scene from the country life.

In the first stanza, the poet indicates how the solitary highland lass is reaping and singing a song which is incomprehensible to the poet. The poet urges not to disturb her in her work and her singing. He suggests one to either watch her or gently pass from the scene. The poet highlights how the solitary reaper sings a melancholic tune while doing her work. The poet emphasises how the entire valley is flowing with the sound of the song.

In the second stanza, the poet is all praises for the tune of the song. The poet is unable to understand the language of the song but the tune is quite expressive. In this stanza, the poet employs the literary device of metaphor and hyperbole to emphasise the enchanting quality of the song. The poet categorically says that no nightingale did ever chant in such a mellifluous voice, the quality of voice of the reaper surpassing that of the cuckoo-bird in spring.

In the third stanza, the poet tries to conjecture about the themes of the song. Given its melancholy tune, the poet feels that the theme of the song might be of some natural sorrow, loss or pain or of battles fought long ago.

Finally, the poet concludes that even if he cannot grasp the meaning of the song, he finds the tune touching his heart and lingering in his mind for ever giving him joy despite its melancholy nature.

Posted by Vanshika(student)on 28/8/12

 wot an answe awsum ! u made my learning quicker 

Posted by Sparsh Kapoor(student)on 20/9/12

William Wordsworth 's The Solitary Reaper, a short lyrical ballad, conveys the theme of ironic beauty of melancholy over more positive feelings such as joy projected through the song of a highland lass. Composed of thirty two lines and divided into four stanzas, the poem is dominated by one central figure, a highland girl standing alone in a field harvesting grain. The poem is written in the first person and can be classified as pastoral, describing a scene from the country life.

In the first stanza, the poet indicates how the solitary highland lass is reaping and singing a song which is incomprehensible to the poet. The poet urges not to disturb her in her work and her singing. He suggests one to either watch her or gently pass from the scene. The poet highlights how the solitary reaper sings a melancholic tune while doing her work. The poet emphasises how the entire valley is flowing with the sound of the song.

In the second stanza, the poet is all praises for the tune of the song. The poet is unable to understand the language of the song but the tune is quite expressive. In this stanza, the poet employs the literary device of metaphor and hyperbole to emphasise the enchanting quality of the song. The poet categorically says that no nightingale did ever chant in such a mellifluous voice, the quality of voice of the reaper surpassing that of the cuckoo-bird in spring.

In the third stanza, the poet tries to conjecture about the themes of the song. Given its melancholy tune, the poet feels that the theme of the song might be of some natural sorrow, loss or pain or of battles fought long ago.

Finally, the poet concludes that even if he cannot grasp the meaning of the song, he finds the tune touching his heart and lingering in his mind for ever giving him joy despite its melancholy nature.

Posted by Wakogeko(student)on 25/8/13

The solitary reaper is a nostalgic poem.

In the first stanza , the beauty of a country side has been described by the poet. A highland lass (girl) is reaping the fields while singing a beautiful song which holds the poet's full attention. The poet doesn't wish to disturb her singing. The tne is melodious and extremely touching.

In the second stanza the poet describes the beauty of the song and the tune. The poet is unable to understand the language but still the song is very heart touching. The poet thinks that not even a nightingale has ever sung such a beautiful song.The voice of the reaper has been compared to that of a cuckoo in the spring.

IN the third stanza the poet tries to explain the theme of the song. He concludes that the theme might be of some personal loss or sorrow or pain that the lady has faced or gone through.

Finally the poet concludes that even of cant understand what the song is about, he finds it quite touching and the song gives him joy that is still lingering in him!

Posted by Poulami Sinha(student)on 25/8/13

In the first stanza the speaker comes across a beautiful girl working alone in the fields of Scotland (the Highland). She is "Reaping and singing by herself." He tells the reader not to interrupt her, and then mentions that the valley is full of song. 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. The second stanza is a list of things that cannot equal the beauty of the girl's singing: No Nightingale did ever chaunt 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. In the third stanza the reader learns that the speaker cannot understand the words being sung. He can only guess at what she might be singing about: 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? In the fourth and final stanza the speaker tells the reader that even though he did not know what she was singing about, the music stayed in his heart as he continued up the hill: Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang As if her song could have no ending; 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. Analysis "The Solitary Reaper" was written on November 5, 1805 and published in 1807. The poem is broken into four eight-line stanzas (32 lines total). Most of the poem is in iambic tetrameter. The rhyme scheme for the stanzas is either abcbddee or ababccdd. (In the first and last stanzas the first and third lines don't rhyme, while in the other two stanzas they do.) This poem is unique in Wordsworth's oeuvre because while most of his work is based closely on his own experiences, "The Solitary Reaper" is based on the experience of someone else: Thomas Wilkinson, as described in his Tours to the British Mountains. The passage that inspired Wordsworth is the following: "Passed a female who was reaping alone: she sung in Erse [the Gaelic language of Scotland] as she bended over her sickle; the sweetest human voice I ever heard: her strains were tenderly melancholy, and felt delicious, long after they were heard no more" (as qtd. in The Norton Anthology English Literature). Part of what makes this poem so intriguing is the fact that the speaker does not understand the words being sung by the beautiful young lady. In the third stanza, he is forced to imagine what she might be singing about. He supposes that she may be singing about history and things that happened long ago, or some sadness that has happened in her own time and will happen again. As the speaker moves on, he carries the music of the young lady with him in his heart. This is a prevalent theme in much of Wordsworth's poetry. For instance, the same idea is used in "I wandered lonely as a cloud" when the speaker takes the memory of the field of daffodils with him to cheer him up on bad days.

Posted by Ananya Chandra(student)on 25/8/13

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