William Wordsworth through his unmatchable expressions and beautiful ideas has made The solitary Reaper a real figure. The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings arising from emotions recollected in tranquillity makes us feel that we have all met William Wordsworth’s solitary reaper somewhere in our life, or are waiting to meet her.
In the poem ‘The Solitary Reaper‘ the poet describes the melodious and mellifluous voice of a highland lass who is cutting and binding the grain all by herself. The poet finds her song to be sweeter than the song of the nightingale. The song of the nightingale and the cuckoo is the sweetest, most pleasant, and most refreshing. By comparing it, the poet wants to establish a fact that the song of the solitary reaper is simply incomparable in its music melody and sweetness.
The poet cannot understand the words but can feel them. Its plaintive tone and melancholy sound touch him deeply. The fascination of the unfamiliar prompts him to let his imagination roam freely. He imagines all possible matters – romantic ancient occurrences to dull, everyday incidents- as the subject of the song. Perhaps it is about a disaster or calamity in the past or it is of a loved one or it is any common routine event.
The incident described in the poem is quite simple. The poet comes across a highland lass reaping and singling all alone in her field. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary as it is a common practice among hilly girls. It is the description of the impact of her song on the poet’s mind and heart that makes the incident a memorable one. It leaves him spellbound. He stands still, motionless listening to her song and carries it in his heart. The song stays with him as a pleasant memory and can be heard after it is heard no more. It is a source of joy for him forever.
In this poem, Wordsworth has beautifully described 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 passersby 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. 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 to 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.