The melancholy strain in “The
A lyric by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth is known as a
great lover of Nature. His impressive and philosophical thoughts are to be
really admired in this poem.
Wordsworth clearly exhibits the effective use
of poetic devices such as personification, imagery, repetition, rhyme and tone
to successfully communicate his ideas with the readers; not only as a story but
also to convey a message. The tone used throughout the poem is filled with
bliss and contentment.
The poem describes a very unique experience,
the poet encounters one day in a field. The poet, during his visit to Scotland,
came across a lovely girl, reaping the grains in a corn field. She was all
alone in the field, singing a melancholy song. Her lovely person and her sweet
song had a deep impression in the mind of the poet and moved him to compose the
lyric under the title “The Solitary Reaper”. Wordsworth portrayed her as
a part of the beautiful scene of nature.
The poet stumbles upon the young
girl, working alone, reaping, in the fields of Scotland – “highland lass”. Wordsworth
effectively uses aural and visual imagery to convey his appreciation for the
beautiful song she is singing, her expressive beauty and the mood it is
creating within him.
The girl was reaping the grain in the field
and was singing a song. The poet could not comprehend the meaning of the song,
as it was in a language, which the poet could not understand. However, the poet
tries to conjecture about the themes of the song. Given its melancholy tune,
the poet feels that the theme of the song might be of some natural sorrow, loss
or pain or of battles fought long ago.
The poet guessed that the song may relate to
an old tragic event that would have happened or it may be some recent calamity
or disaster in her life. Whatsoever be the reason underlining the melancholy
strain in the song, the poet is bewitched by the thrilling notes of the
solitary reaper. The tune was so powerful that the deep valley was seemed
overflowing with the song of the reaper in solitude.
The flow of melody was so sweet and seamless
that the poet stood stand still and spell bound and listened to the song in
solitude. Not only that, he requested the passersby, not to intrude in to the
solitude and go without making any noise.
The poet stood still and listened to
that golden voice for some time. After words, when he was moving forward in the
valley, he could not hear that song any longer. But he was still feeling the
sweet vibrations of that music in his heart. The sweet memory of that song had
become a permanent source of joy.
We can compare the theme of the song
with that of “Tintern Abbey”. In this poem, Wordsworth was able to look
on the nature and hear the “human music”; in this poem “The Solitary Reaper”,
the poet is able to enjoy the real time human music encountered in a beloved
rustic atmosphere. The song of the girl reaping in the field is
incomprehensible to him (“a Highland Lass”, she is singing in Scots), lest, he
appreciates the tone, its expressive beauty and the mood it creates with in
him, rather than its explicit content.
To a reader, the poem ponders the
limitations of language, as he says “Will no one tells me what she sings?.
However, Wordsworth could identify spontaneous overflowing of the feeling of
the melancholy tone of the song and its beauty.
The poem “The Solitary Reaper” may be
compared with Keats’s two great introspection on art, the “Ode to a
Nightingale,” in which the poet drenches himself in the music of a bird in
the forest and “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” in which the poet is unable to
ascertain the stories behind the shapes on an urn. It can also be compared with
Keats’s “Ode to Autumn” with the figure of an emblematic girl reaping in
The imagery used by Wordsworth has
compared the solitary reaper’s song to some other wonderful melodies. It is
very nice for the reader to enjoy the song of the Solitary Reaper with that of
Nightingale and Cuckoo. The comparison is excellent. Imagine a song that sounds
like ‘nightingales singing welcome notes to weary travelers in a shady haunt,
among Arabian sands’…or a song ‘in springtime from the cuckoo bird, breaking
the silence of the seas’. The reader of the song can really visualize such imaginations
in his mind. Such perceptions leave, no doubt, about how good the reaper’s song
must have been, in the mind of the poet.
And, at last, after all the
comparisons and conjectures, the poet continues on his way, bearing the song in
his heart. In fact, author of this article, when he was a student in a college,
enjoyed the lecture given by my English professor and the theme of the song is
still in my memory.
The poet concludes that even if he
cannot grasp the meaning of the song, he finds the tune touching his heart and
lingering in his mind for ever, giving him joy, despite its melancholy nature
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Solitude, Reaper, Melancholy, Nightingale, Cuckoo