Summary and Analysis of Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth

This article provides a complete summary and analysis of The Solitary Reaper. The Solitary Reaper is a master piece of Wordsworth and is often recognized with him. As you go through this article, you can understand the meaning of the poem and its association with Wordsworth’s ideology.

History of the Poem

This poem can be considered as a lyric, written in the year 1807. As you go through the solitary reaper explanation you get to understand that the poem was not inspired by an actual sight, but by the description of a solitary reaper which was given in Thomas Wilkinson’s “Tour in Scotland”.

More info about the poem

  • The journal of a traveler and the dairy of his sister remind the poet of such experience and the alacrity that had brought him.
  • So he was inspired to write this wonderful poem.
  • This is one of the finest lyrics that Wordsworth ever produced.

Explanation of The Solitary Reaper

The poem beautifully sets the atmosphere for introducing the readers with a young lonely reaper who dwells in the highlands, reaping the corn and singing a sad song. The poet might have idealized the solitary reaper as a Scottish maidenHe wonders that her song is more appealing and musically perfect then that of a nightingale or a cuckoo . The poet seem to be highly influenced by the soft melancholy, sadness and wistfulness of the song that he hears. The song has left unforgettable impressions and has dwelled into the innermost chords of the poets mind.

It has to be clarified that Wordsworth has projected a democratic note so far as the theme of this poem I concerned. He preferred a simple familiar girl of a peasant as the subject of his poem. This is something uncommon in the history of English poetry because most of the poets of the eighteen century were concerned in portraying “town life and towns people ”. Wordsworth expressed his democratic view towards mankind by bringing forth this simple Scottish maiden, who happens to be the central character and theme of the poem. In his own words, he “looses incidence from humble and common life a themes for his poems”. The central idea of this poem is that the song sung by a forlorn Scottish girl appears more thrilling and enchanting than that of nightingale or the cuckoo. As the poem progresses, one can feel an eerie, sober melody and soft melancholy that continues and blends with the theme of the poem.

I listened, motionlessly and still:

And as I mounted up the hill

The music in my heart I bore,

Long after it was heard n more.

Salient Features of the Poem

  • This poem illustrates Wordsworth’s theory of poetry.
  • Wordsworth is able to produce great pieces of poetry when his emotions get recollected in tranquility.
  • He and his sister Dorothy had encountered many search reapers singing while at work in remote parts of the highlands of Scotland during their tour.
  • This poem presents Wordsworth’s democratic view towards life

The Solitary Reaper Meaning and Theme

This poem is more a vision than a piece of meditation as aWordsworthian lyric is apt to become. The reaper sings in Gaelic, the language that the poet doesn’t know, thus he is unable to understand the meaning of the song. However the enchanting melody makes Wordsworth’s imagination set to work. He travels in poetic space far off in the deserts of Arabia or the farthest Hebrides to gather similes which would impart a thrilling quality to the girl’s song.

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow,

For old unhappy, far of things

And battles long ago.

These are among the most suggestive verses in romantic poetry and are akin to finest production of Keats and Coleridge.

The poem is simple yet romantic, pure yet serene. There is no art in the poem but imaginary and magical musical tone is sufficient enough to make the readers go into depths of Wordsworth poetry.

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  1. This is very helpful to me to get educated about the poems which I couldn’t get thoroughly. I guess I might never get the idea of this poem without such notes,a very helpful notes. I am very thankful to Beamingnotes and I adore it.

  2. This analysis of the poem solitary reaper is quite interesting and also helpful for the readers who are not intellectual about the symbols of the poem. it is good and worth reading.

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