William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

The Solitary Reaper


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

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001
Edited: Thursday, May 17, 2001

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Read poems about / on: loss, sorrow, music, silence, spring, work, song, pain, alone

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  • Rookie - 36 Points Viti Kumaar (9/16/2014 11:28:00 AM)

    Can somebody lease explain this poem? It is beautifully phrased but I can't seem to understand the soul of this poem: ( (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 75 Points Stephen Loomes (10/12/2013 4:23:00 AM)

    How wonderful are these verses of the n=man well-named, , , who gives more than tne wordsare worth (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ajay Ganu (7/15/2013)

    This song was evoked in my heart by Dr.Aditi Gokhale Shahane, the maid of Orleans! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 9 Points Srimayee Ganguly (12/16/2012 5:53:00 AM)

    Enchanting, I am completely wonderstruck. While the poet encountered the maiden in the vale her song left him motionless and still but sadly, it was no longer heard. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Laxi Chellappa (7/10/2012 5:19:00 PM)

    This was one of my favorite poem which i read when i was in my school.Thanks to my english mam Muthulatha who made me understand the soul of the poem.The poem is like a saddest song which tell us a sweetest thoughts. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Khundana Brahma (2/24/2012 11:28:00 AM)

    I have read this poem when I was in school and my teacher explained this poem so well that I started to imagine myself as the Reaper. the words in this poem can make to reader see the scene while closing their eyes. thanks to teacher MISS REENA as SANGHAMITRA MAZUMDER for making me understand such a priceless poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mallika Joshi (9/20/2011 7:59:00 AM)

    it was written when the poet is travelling through the scottish highlands. while crossing a valley, he is hears a beautiful voice of a young lass singing a song which was proably sad. he was amazed by the sweetness of her voice and the beauty of her song. the notes of the song were very sad and he assumed that she was probably singing about something tragic that happened, about war and how it affected her, etc. he is so starled by her voice that he compares her to cuckoo bird or a nightingale who are known for their sweet voice. she is reaping alone in the field singing a song that doesnt seem to end. the valley is filled by her voice. though he wonders whether he should stay and listen to the young reaper or just walk ahead. he leaves. but he does wish to figure out her situation. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Rishav Anand (8/9/2011 10:52:00 AM)

    wow wat a nice poem such nice just cant explain.
    but i would definitely want to know wat was the reason behind the song sung by her
    or what was she singing (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Samantha Andez (4/28/2010 7:55:00 AM)

    this poem describe that when william was on a vacation with his sister to scotland their he saw a high land lass(scottish girl) singing and working all by herself.she was constantly changing her work.sometimes she was reaping and other time she was stacking.but what the writer more concentrated on was her voice which was more beautiful than the nightingale and cuckoo bird.even though she was singing a melancholic song and in a language that william could not understand.but he didnt need to also because he could understand by her tone that what she was singing.
    but alas he had to go.he left and remebered that unique song which was not sung like her voice anywhere............see the beauty of the poem (i wrote it specially for u laura rajaram so hope u understood it) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mimzy Sue (11/1/2008 11:46:00 AM)

    I always loved this poem from childhood but i never really understood the meaning back then. The writter is very thoughtful and humane... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Agatha Sathiyaa (7/30/2008 3:38:00 AM)

    this is one of my fovourite poems there is something touching in the way this poem is written. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Priya Giri (3/18/2007 12:15:00 AM)

    I read this poem when I was in school. Now 19 years later it still sounds the same. I vividly remember our teacher urging us all to come out with our interpretations of this lovely piece. While the analyses were many, I remember one quite distinctly. It was about how a lone reaper provided solace to weary travellers without even realising it...... (Report) Reply

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