As an introduction to the book, Wordsworth catches the readers’ attention by pointing to a beautiful girl working alone in the field reaping and singing by herself. The girl does not want to be interrupted and alludes to the valley being full of songs.
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The first stanza of the song heaps a lot of praises on the girl’s beauty and the extent of loneliness she is in. The speaker is not able to comprehend the words of the song that the girl is singing, but only guesses what she could be singing about.
The numbers in the third stanza may be flowing, but for the old and unhappy people this could be far-off things and battles that were fought in earlier years.
The reader is not sure whether the song is a more humble lay characteristic of today’s life, and wonders whether the song would be a manifestation of a natural sorrow, loss, or pain that occurred and has chances of recurring.
The song that the maiden was singing remained in the speaker’s heart as he climbed up the hill despite the fact that he did not understand what she was singing. It is difficult to understand whatever it was that stayed in the heart of the speaker if he could not understand the actual song.
Could be there is something that attracted the speaker other than the song? Probably the maiden’s voice. What else could have made him motionless and still if he could not articulate the words that were used in the song? The song remained in his heart until he went up in the hills, where he could hear of it no more.
The Solitary Reaper has four stanzas that are arranged into eight lines each, bringing the total number of lines to thirty-two. Its rhyme scheme alternates between abcbdde and ababccdd. The opening and the closing stanzas do not rhyme, in contrast, the other two stanzas, that is, the second and third, have a matching rhyme scheme.
Most of Wordsmith’s works are influenced by the experience that he had gone through. However, Solitary Reaper is unique in the sense that Wordsmith writes about one Thomas Wilkinson’s Tour to the British Mountains as evidenced in the books passage that talks about passing a female who was reaping alone while singing in Erse.
The poem is so intriguing because the speaker barely understands what the woman is singing about, and relies heavily on imagination. He harbors a feeling that the lady may be singing about history.
When the speaker talks about carrying the music of the young lady into his heart, attention is drawn to typical Wordsmith poetry that is underlined by heavy romantic undertones. No wonder the speaker finds it strange that the young lady reaps and sings by herself (James, pp. 68).
The poet warns anybody passing the solitary lady who is reaping to avoid disturbing her, but either to ‘stop here’ or pass gently. Her sound is beautiful and overflows through the valley. Her sound is received more than the nightingale tune to worn out travelers in the desert.
The poet says that her voice is so thrilling and by any standards, cannot be matched with that of the cuckoo-bird. Impatience prompts the poet to ask whatever the young lady could be singing about. Wordsworth testified that most of his work was inclined observation of nature and hearing of music.
However, this specific piece is all about human music encountered in a lovely rustic scenery. He appreciates the tone of the song, its beauty, and the kind of mood the song creates in him. Not so much credence is given to the songs explicit content, which the speaker simply guesses.
Despite the limitation of language exhibited in stanza three, the poet still marvels at the beauty of the music, the fluid expressive beauty. Wordsmith is so tactical in the way he places praise and beauty in a natural setting. The source of this beauty is a simple rustic girl.
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This puts this artistic piece on a Lyrical Ballad’s pedestal. The language of the piece is unforced and natural and its structure simple. The first stanzas sets the stage for the rest of the lines while the second stanza highlights comparisons between the two birds, the third stanzas tries to interrogate the content of the songs, and finally, the fourth stanza talks about the effects of the song on the speaker.
The final two lines of the Solitary Reaper focus on the theme of memory and the soothing effects of memories on someone’s thoughts and feelings. State of solitude is very important as it makes one’s soul to concentrate on his/ her elementary feelings.
The young lady is said to be single, solitary and all by herself. From the notes, the speaker is in a position to detect the emotional impact of the music the lonely girl sings. The notes of the song are welcome to the speaker (James, pp. 68).
James, G. Ingli. Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper. Essaya in Criticism, Volume 15, Issue 1, 1965. Pp. 65-76.
Wordsworth, William. Solitary Reaper. New York: Amazon, 1805. Print.