Meaning of The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth


Stanza-wise Annotations of The Solitary Reaper:

Stanza 1:

‘Behold’- to see

‘Yon’- a dialectical adjective. It refers to something that is distant yet within sight.

‘Highland Lass’- Highlands are plateau like structures. But here, it refers to the Scottish Highlands. ‘Lass’ typically means a young girl or a maiden. The poem is probably set in Scotland.

‘strain’- tune; melodies

Stanza 2:

‘chaunt’- archaic way of saying ‘chant’

‘weary’- tired; exhausted

‘shady haunt’- a shady nook or place of repose

‘Hebrides’- an archipelago situated off the northwestern coast of Scotland.

Stanza 3:

‘plaintive numbers’- melancholy tunes

‘humble lay’- humble generally means down-to-earth and a ‘lay’ is an archaic name for a song. Here, humble lay means the subject of the song sung by the solitary reaper is perhaps of an ordinary nature.

Stanza 4:

‘sickle’- a kind of a curved blade, like a crescent-moon, that is used to cut or reap crops from their stalks.

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