The Solitary Reaper

Two days ago I was reading an old email my father wrote to me. He had written that he and my mother had been to Talkaveri in Kodagu district. The spot was beautiful and it reminded him of the poem ‘The Solitary Reaper’ by Wordsworth. He had even quoted a few lines from the poem.We had it in school to memorize. One of the several poems I loved back then.

After reading the poem, I imagined a  girl engrossed in her work, singing a song  in lush green farm. Her tunes echo in the valley. This picture I created in my mind stayed for several hours.

What I like in this poem is a simple thought beautifully put in words. The whole poem is nothing but about a lonely girl who sings in a farm while she carries out her chore. Poet tries to understand the song and her emotions. Was she singing out of sorrow or about a day-to-day matter? Or about a battle long gone? Whatever she sings her voice, like a cuckoo bird, breaks the surrounding silence, it appears as if the tunes are overflowing from the valley. For a minute the poet stops and listens to the song. He stays motionless and listens. The song appears endless. He continues to climb up the hill as he listens to her song. He carries the tunes in his heart for a very long time even after he hears the tune no more.

As I read the lines, I paint a picture in my mind. The poet knows the tune and he carries in his heart forever. I carry the picture I painted forever. The best part is to imagine the tune. How beautiful the tune would have been to make Wordsworth write this beautiful poem. I only wish he could describe the tune somehow!

‘The Solitary Reaper’ by Wordsworth

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 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.

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?

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 listen’d, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.


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