Introduction of The Solitary Reaper

‘The Solitary Reaper’ was written by Wordsworth on November 5, 1805, and published in 1807. In 1815-1820 it was included among the “Poems of Imagination.”

This poem is different in the way that while most of Wordsworth’s work is closely focused on his own experiences, ‘The Solitary Reaper’ is focused on someone else’s experience: author and friend Thomas Wilkinson, as described in his British Mountains Tours.

In this post, we are going to discuss summary, analysis and questions of the poem “The Solitary Reaper” by Wordsworth. We will also provide the glossary of the poem at the end.

Like most of Wordsworth’s poems, this poem is distinguished by its simple use of language and meter and its natural theme and imagery. It represents Wordsworth’s belief in the value of the natural world, the strength of memory and the human mind and his first principle of poetry: that poetry should be written to offer enjoyment through a rhythmic and powerful expression of emotion and leave readers with ‘a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ even long after it is read. Let’s provide summary of the poem and then give its stanza wise explanation of the poem.

Summary of The Solitary Reaper

Wardsworth came across a lovely maiden at work in the fields all alone during his tour of Scotland. Her lovely song and the presence of some local dialect in a foreign language had a profound impression and moved the poet to write those verses. The poem expresses an emotion that the girl’s song has aroused. This sweet and melodious song is full of romantic passion and appears to maintain his reflective mood until the end. This shows Wordsworth’s love for nature and natural objects. The lovely singer appeared to be a part of the beauty of nature representing its sweetness, joy and mystery. Her song captivated the poet ears as well as the imagination. The poet felt from the tome that the song was melancholy. The song was more charming than the song of a nightingale or a cuckoo bird.

There was a thrill and excitement in it although there was no meaning in the words because the poet did not know the dialect. The poet wished he could know the songs’ contents to intensify their impact. The poem doesn’t give the girl’s song any definite meaning. The meaning is as unknown to the reader as it is to the poet as he asks, is nobody going to tell me what she is singing? The poet depicts in the poem feelings of beauty charm and mystery. A reader of imagination experiences the same exhaustion as the poet had felt. It seems, however, that Nature impresses the poet not only when he is in direct contact with it, but also when he remembers its beauty. The girl’s song leaves no impression unloosing to his mind. He listens to it motionlessly and heard no more rendering the poem romantic in nature and a thing of beauty to enjoy forever.


The poet wanders aimlessly on his way when she suddenly sees a girl alone in the field on the highland. The girl harvests the crop and is singing a song to herself. The poet likes to sing a lot. He asks the people who walk by there not to interrupt her in singing. He wants the people to quietly stop where they are or pass from there. There’s no one with the girl, and she cut and bind the grain all by herself. The poet observes the song she chants is full of sorrow and melancholy. The girl stands in the valley, and her song resounds through the valley.

The poet feels that the girl’s song is very sweet. He finds her song sweeter than the song of the nightingale. The poet says that the nightingale’s song gives relief and happiness to the travellers in the Arabian deserts when they stayed on Oasis. The poet feels the girl’s song is thrilling also. He says that he has never listened to a more thrilling song than this. He even finds the girl’s song more thrilling than the song of the cuckoo bird. The cuckoo bird sings her songs in springtime over the silent seas of the far away Hebrides.

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The issue with the poet is that he can’t comprehend the song of the girl. He doesn’t know the language she chants in. He needs someone to tell him what the song means. Even telling him there’s nobody around. The poet himself, therefore, began to conjecture the meaning or theme of the song. According to him, the song may be about past battles or some old, unhappy incidents. It may also be a matter the girl is familiar with. It can also be about some natural sorrow, loss or pain in the past that has happened to her.

The poet is incapable of knowing the theme of the girl’s song. But that doesn’t worry him. He still enjoys the song. To the poet, it seems the girl is not going to stop singing. Her song is never going to end. She will keep singing forever. The poet watches the girl sing and does her job. He stands there without making the movement of any kind. He listens to her song as well, without making any noise. He won’t disturb the girl. He couldn’t hear the girl’s song when the poet walked up the hill. But the poet says he can still hear the sweetness and the song’s melody in his memory. He is sure it will never be forgotten.

Stanza-wise Summary of The Solitary Reaper

1. Behold her. ………………….. with the sound.

The poet sees a Highland girl in the field. This girl is reaping the crop and singing to herself. The poet likes this scene. He says to the passers-by either to stop there quietly or to pass from there without making the least noise. The girl is cutting and binding the crop alone and also singing a song. This song is of sad nature. But the poet likes it very much and wants everybody to listen to it. The song is also echoing in the valley.

2. No Nightingale ………………….. farthest Hebrides.

The poet thinks that even the nightingale famous for its singing to the tired travellers in the Arabian desert when they take rest at an Oasis, cannot sing better than this girl. The singing of the girl is also better and more thrilling than the Cuckoo-bird which sings in the spring season and then breaks the silence of the seas among the faraway Hebrides.

3. Will, no one tell …………………………… may be again?

The poet is unable to understand the language in which the girl is singing. He does not know the theme of the song and wants somebody to tell him the theme. He thinks that the song is about old, unhappy incidents or of some battles in the past. The song can also be about some familiar matter related to the life of the girl. The song may also be about some natural sorrow, pain or loss which has happened to her.

4. Whate’er the theme ………………… heard no more.

The poet does not think too much about the theme of the song. He is enjoying the song heartily. The poet thinks that there is no end to the girl’s singing as if she will never stop singing. He watches her singing and using the sickle to do her work at the same time in the field. The poet says that he listened to her song without making any kind of movement and noise. When the poet walked up the hill he said he still remembered the song music which that highland girl sang. The poet also says he will remember her singing all the time.

Line – Wise Explanation The Solitary Reaper

Lines 1-4

In these lines, the poet talks about a Scottish young girl. He tells us to look at the girl who is reaping grain and singing a nice song as well. He advises the passerby to stop short and listen to her song or pass by here very quietly, so she won’t get disturbed.

Lines 5-8
The poet tells us that the highland girl cuts the grain and binds it in sheaves. She also chants a sad song. She is really busy with both her song and her work. Again the poet advises her to listen to her song. He says her sweet song echoes the whole deep valley. The whole dale listens to her sweet voice. We should listen and enjoy her song too.

Lines 9-12
In the lines given the poet compares the girl’s sweet voice to a nightingale voice. Nightingale is regarded as a sweet-voiced bird. The poet says no night angle has so far sung a song melodiously as the girl sings when some group of tired travellers reaches a shady place, in the Arabian deserts. The night angel welcomes the caravan with his sweet song, although it is obvious that there is usually no night angle in the deserts. However, if there is an oasis, it a night angle is found there it is but natural that a night angle is found there. So when a fired caravan reaches any cease or shrubby area, it’s welcomed by the night angle. The poet says that the voice of the singing girl is rather sweeter that they of a night angle.

Lines 13-16

These lines show a comparison between the song of the girl and the song of the cuckoo. He says that such a sweet voice was heard from the cuckoo even in the spring season. The song of the cuckoo is always very sweet but the voiced of the girl, who was singing, was sweeter than the cuckoo s. The voice of the girl was so sweet that it broke the silence of the seas and of the far off Islands on the north-western coast of Scotland. These islands are never distributed by any storm but the voice of the girl into the silence of this group of Islands. This was because of the praiseworthy song of the girl which even affected the seas.

Lines 17-20

In these lines, the poet tells us about the language of the song. He does not understand the alien language of the song. He says will no one tell him the meaning of the song of the girl. He says that perhaps the girl is singing some sad of the past. He guesses the language and the meaning of the song.

Perhaps the girl is singing some unhappy song or singing about events that have taken place in the past perhaps she is singing about battles which have been fought in the far off past.

Lines 21-24

These lines are an expression of the understandable language of the song. The poet again guesses at the theme. Perhaps she is singing a simple song on some ordinary matter of the age. Perhaps she is singing simple sorrow of loss or of some misery. Maybe she is singing for the lower who has lilted her.

Probably the incident of loss or pain has taken place and it may be experienced again in future.

Lines 25-28

These lines also show that the poet did not know the theme of the song. He says whatever theme she sang irrespective of that it seems that the song of the young girl would not come to an end. The poet says that he saw the girl busy at her work and also singing while reaping with a sickle in bent motion.

Lines 29-32

These are the concluding lines of the poem. The poet says that first he listened to her song standing still and motionless. But as he mounted up the hill of Scotland the tune of the song was so sweet that it struck the heart of the poet. He was sop impressed that he carried the melody of the song with him long after the song was ended by the girl. Actually, the poet of nature was profoundly impressed by this natural scene. He remembered this song forties natural melodious effect.

Critical appreciation of The Solitary Reaper

In this poem, Wordsworth has beautifully described the life in the countryside, a girl cutting the crop while singing. He has used the language of the common man to describe country life. The poet sees a highland girl working alone in the field, reaping the crop and singing a melancholy song to herself. The poet immediately feels attracted to this beautiful song. Although he is unable to understand the language of the song even then he is enjoying the music of the song. The poet loves the girl’s singing so much that he compares it with that of a nightingale and a cuckoo bird. Both these birds are well known for their singing abilities but the poet thinks that the girl was singing sweeter and better than these two birds. He does not want to disturb the girl in her singing. He says to the passers-by either to stop there or to pass away from there without making any kind of disturbance. He himself is listening to the song silently while standing still.

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As the poet is not sure of the theme of the song, he imagines that the song could be about some old, unhappy incidents or about the battles of the past. The song could also be about some familiar matter related to the girl’s life, or it could also be related to some natural sorrow, loss or pain which must have happened to the girl before. This shows the love of the past which is a characteristics feature of romantic poetry. For the poet to enjoy the music of the song is more important than knowing the theme of the song. He is not concerned about the theme. It seems to him that there is no end of the girl’s singing and she will continue to sing forever. At the end of the poem, the poet says that he knows he will not get a chance to listen to this song again. But even then he will remember her singing. It is impossible for him to forget that singing. He will always remember it.

Important Questions of The Solitary Reaper

1. When was this poem first published?
Answer. This poem was first published in 1807.

2. When was this poem written?
Answer. This poem was written between 1803-1805

3. What is the theme of this poem?
Answer. The theme of this poem is solitude and the bond between man and nature.

4. What are the other things with which the poet compares the solitary girl’s singing and why does he do so?
Answer. The singing of the girl is compared with a nightingale and a cuckoo bird which are well known for their extraordinary singing. He does so to suggest that the girl’s singing was sweeter than that of the two birds.

5. According to the poet, what can be the theme of the girls singing?
Answer. According to the poet, the song could be about some old, unhappy incidents or about some battles of the past. It could also be related to some familiar matter common to the girl’s life. The song could also be about some natural sorrow, loss or pain which could have happened to the girl in the past.

6. The poet says about the possible themes of the girl’s song. Do these themes suggest the romantic nature of the girl’s song?
Answer. Yes, these themes suggest the girl’s song is romantic in nature. These themes reveal past love that is a characteristic feature of romantic poetry.

Q.7 Why does the poet think that the girl’s song will have no ending?
Answer. The poet thinks that the girl’s song will have no ending because he says that he will never be able to forget this song. This song will always remain in his mind and heart. Thus he will enjoy it every time.


1. Behold (Verb): To look at or see somebody/ something.

2. Solitary (Adjective): Alone, with no other person or thing around.

3. Highland (Adjective): Connected with an area of land that has hills or mountains.

4. Lass (Noun): A girl, a sweetheart

5. Reap (Verb): To cut and collect a crop.

6. Bind (Verb): To tie somebody/something with a rope or string

7. Melancholy (Adjective): Very sad or making you feel sadness.

8. Strain (Noun): The sound of music being played or sung.

9. Vale (Noun): Valley.

10. Profound (Adjective): Very deep

11. Note (Noun): A single sound of a particular length made by the voice or a musical instrument.

12. Weary (Adjective): Very tried

13. Band (Noun): A group of people

14. Haunt (Noun): A place that somebody visits often or where they spend a lot of time.

15. Hebrides: A cluster of islands to the north-west of Scotland, known as the Northern limits of the world.

16. Plaintive (Adjective): Sounding sad, especially in a weak complaining way.

17. Number (Noun): A song.

18. Maiden (Noun): A young girl or woman who is not married.

19. Sickle (Noun): A tool with a curved blade and a short handle say the

20. Mount (Verb): To go up something.

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