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NCERT Textbook - The Solitary Reaper Notes | Study English Class 9 - Class 9

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 Page 1


8 8
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P. 3    The Solitary Reaper
by William Wordsworth
69
CBSE
1. Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a 
long time afterwards. Can you recollect this ever happening to you? If so, what 
was it? What do you remember about it now? Are the details of what you saw or 
the feelings you experienced at that time fresh in your mind? Think for a few 
minutes, then share your thoughts with the class.
2. Listen to one of William Wordsworth's poems, that describes a memorable 
experience he had while out on a walk. (Your teacher will play a recording.) Listen 
to the poem at least twice.
3. Now read the poem.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
5. 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 chant
10 More welcome notes to weary bands
Of  Travellers in some shady haunt.
 Among Arabian Sands
highland lass: a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland
reaping: cutting down and gathering a crop such as corn or rice
melancholy strain: sad song
vale profound: deep valley 
Arabian Sands: the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)
Page 2


8 8
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P. 3    The Solitary Reaper
by William Wordsworth
69
CBSE
1. Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a 
long time afterwards. Can you recollect this ever happening to you? If so, what 
was it? What do you remember about it now? Are the details of what you saw or 
the feelings you experienced at that time fresh in your mind? Think for a few 
minutes, then share your thoughts with the class.
2. Listen to one of William Wordsworth's poems, that describes a memorable 
experience he had while out on a walk. (Your teacher will play a recording.) Listen 
to the poem at least twice.
3. Now read the poem.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
5. 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 chant
10 More welcome notes to weary bands
Of  Travellers in some shady haunt.
 Among Arabian Sands
highland lass: a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland
reaping: cutting down and gathering a crop such as corn or rice
melancholy strain: sad song
vale profound: deep valley 
Arabian Sands: the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)
CBSE
Poetry 
A voice so thrilling ne' er was heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird.
15 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,
20 And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ? 
Same natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
that has been, and may be again ?
25     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
30 And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The Music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.
About the Poet
William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770, in Cockermouth in the Lake District, 
England. When many poets still wrote about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, 
Wordsworth focussed on nature, children, the poor, common people and used 
ordinary words to express his feelings. He defined poetry as "the spontaneous 
overflow of powerful feelings" arising from "emotions recollected in tranquility". He 
died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850.
4. Imagine that you are the poet, William Wordsworth. You continue on your walk, 
and when you reach home you tell a friend what you saw and felt. Which of the 
following best describes your experience? (Work in pairs, then have a class 
discussion.)
70
farthest Hebrides: the most remote group of islands that lie to the north-west of Scotland
plaintive numbers: sad music
humble lay: ordinary song
sickle: a tool for cutting grass and grain crops. It has a short handle and a blade shaped like a hook.
Page 3


8 8
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P. 3    The Solitary Reaper
by William Wordsworth
69
CBSE
1. Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a 
long time afterwards. Can you recollect this ever happening to you? If so, what 
was it? What do you remember about it now? Are the details of what you saw or 
the feelings you experienced at that time fresh in your mind? Think for a few 
minutes, then share your thoughts with the class.
2. Listen to one of William Wordsworth's poems, that describes a memorable 
experience he had while out on a walk. (Your teacher will play a recording.) Listen 
to the poem at least twice.
3. Now read the poem.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
5. 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 chant
10 More welcome notes to weary bands
Of  Travellers in some shady haunt.
 Among Arabian Sands
highland lass: a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland
reaping: cutting down and gathering a crop such as corn or rice
melancholy strain: sad song
vale profound: deep valley 
Arabian Sands: the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)
CBSE
Poetry 
A voice so thrilling ne' er was heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird.
15 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,
20 And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ? 
Same natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
that has been, and may be again ?
25     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
30 And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The Music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.
About the Poet
William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770, in Cockermouth in the Lake District, 
England. When many poets still wrote about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, 
Wordsworth focussed on nature, children, the poor, common people and used 
ordinary words to express his feelings. He defined poetry as "the spontaneous 
overflow of powerful feelings" arising from "emotions recollected in tranquility". He 
died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850.
4. Imagine that you are the poet, William Wordsworth. You continue on your walk, 
and when you reach home you tell a friend what you saw and felt. Which of the 
following best describes your experience? (Work in pairs, then have a class 
discussion.)
70
farthest Hebrides: the most remote group of islands that lie to the north-west of Scotland
plaintive numbers: sad music
humble lay: ordinary song
sickle: a tool for cutting grass and grain crops. It has a short handle and a blade shaped like a hook.
CBSE
Poetry
71
a)    "I was walking past some fields when I saw a young girl, a farm worker, harvesting 
grain by hand, with a sickle. She was so beautiful that I stood out of sight and 
watched her for a long time. I have never seen anyone more gorgeous! In fact, 
she reminded me of other beautiful experiences I've had - the song of the 
nightingale or the cuckoo, for instance. I'd certainly like to see her again!"
b)     "As I was standing on the hill top just now, I heard a very sad and plaintive song. I 
looked down, and saw a young woman reaping grain, singing as she did so. She 
seemed very melancholy as she sang. But somehow her song brought great 
comfort and joy to me. In fact, I found it a very emotional experience. As I 
continued my walk along the hill top, I also heard a nightingale and a cuckoo. But 
the young farm worker's song affected me most deeply, even though I couldn't 
understand the words."
c) "Just now, as I was walking in the valley, I saw a young farm worker in the field. 
She was singing to herself as she worked. I was so affected by her singing, that I 
stopped and listened. She had a beautiful voice, which seemed to fill the whole 
valley. The song was a sad one, and I couldn't understand the words. But its 
plaintive tone and melancholy sound touched me greatly, and its beauty 
reminded me of the song of a nightingale or a cuckoo. After some time. I walked 
up the hill, carrying the memory of the young woman's song with me."
5. The poet could not understand the words of the song, yet he raised several 
possibilities about its theme. In the diagram below are some of these 
possibilities. Read the third stanza again, and find the phrase that matches each. 
Copy and complete the diagram, writing each phrase in the empty boxes. Work in 
pairs.
death or illness of 
a loved one
everyday, routine 
events
What is the theme of 
the solitary reaper's song?
a disaster or calamity in 
the past
an important historical 
event
Page 4


8 8
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P. 3    The Solitary Reaper
by William Wordsworth
69
CBSE
1. Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a 
long time afterwards. Can you recollect this ever happening to you? If so, what 
was it? What do you remember about it now? Are the details of what you saw or 
the feelings you experienced at that time fresh in your mind? Think for a few 
minutes, then share your thoughts with the class.
2. Listen to one of William Wordsworth's poems, that describes a memorable 
experience he had while out on a walk. (Your teacher will play a recording.) Listen 
to the poem at least twice.
3. Now read the poem.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
5. 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 chant
10 More welcome notes to weary bands
Of  Travellers in some shady haunt.
 Among Arabian Sands
highland lass: a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland
reaping: cutting down and gathering a crop such as corn or rice
melancholy strain: sad song
vale profound: deep valley 
Arabian Sands: the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)
CBSE
Poetry 
A voice so thrilling ne' er was heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird.
15 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,
20 And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ? 
Same natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
that has been, and may be again ?
25     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
30 And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The Music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.
About the Poet
William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770, in Cockermouth in the Lake District, 
England. When many poets still wrote about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, 
Wordsworth focussed on nature, children, the poor, common people and used 
ordinary words to express his feelings. He defined poetry as "the spontaneous 
overflow of powerful feelings" arising from "emotions recollected in tranquility". He 
died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850.
4. Imagine that you are the poet, William Wordsworth. You continue on your walk, 
and when you reach home you tell a friend what you saw and felt. Which of the 
following best describes your experience? (Work in pairs, then have a class 
discussion.)
70
farthest Hebrides: the most remote group of islands that lie to the north-west of Scotland
plaintive numbers: sad music
humble lay: ordinary song
sickle: a tool for cutting grass and grain crops. It has a short handle and a blade shaped like a hook.
CBSE
Poetry
71
a)    "I was walking past some fields when I saw a young girl, a farm worker, harvesting 
grain by hand, with a sickle. She was so beautiful that I stood out of sight and 
watched her for a long time. I have never seen anyone more gorgeous! In fact, 
she reminded me of other beautiful experiences I've had - the song of the 
nightingale or the cuckoo, for instance. I'd certainly like to see her again!"
b)     "As I was standing on the hill top just now, I heard a very sad and plaintive song. I 
looked down, and saw a young woman reaping grain, singing as she did so. She 
seemed very melancholy as she sang. But somehow her song brought great 
comfort and joy to me. In fact, I found it a very emotional experience. As I 
continued my walk along the hill top, I also heard a nightingale and a cuckoo. But 
the young farm worker's song affected me most deeply, even though I couldn't 
understand the words."
c) "Just now, as I was walking in the valley, I saw a young farm worker in the field. 
She was singing to herself as she worked. I was so affected by her singing, that I 
stopped and listened. She had a beautiful voice, which seemed to fill the whole 
valley. The song was a sad one, and I couldn't understand the words. But its 
plaintive tone and melancholy sound touched me greatly, and its beauty 
reminded me of the song of a nightingale or a cuckoo. After some time. I walked 
up the hill, carrying the memory of the young woman's song with me."
5. The poet could not understand the words of the song, yet he raised several 
possibilities about its theme. In the diagram below are some of these 
possibilities. Read the third stanza again, and find the phrase that matches each. 
Copy and complete the diagram, writing each phrase in the empty boxes. Work in 
pairs.
death or illness of 
a loved one
everyday, routine 
events
What is the theme of 
the solitary reaper's song?
a disaster or calamity in 
the past
an important historical 
event
CBSE
Poetry 
72
6. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions 
by ticking the correct choice.
(a) The central idea of the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' is _____.
(i) well sung songs give us happiness
(ii) melodious sounds appeal to all
(iii) beautiful experiences give us life-long pleasure
(iv) reapers can sing like birds
(b) In the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' to whom does the poet say ' Stop here or gently 
pass'?
(i) to the people cutting corn
(ii) to himself
(iii) to the people who make noise
(iv) to all the passers by
(c) 'The Solitary Reaper' is a narrative poem set to music. This form of verse is called 
a______.
(i) ballad 
(ii) soliloquy
(iii) monologue
(iv) sonnet
(d) The poet's lament in the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' is that __________.
(i) he cannot understand the song
(ii) he did not know the lass
(iii) she stopped singing at once
(iv) he had to move away
(e) The setting of the poem is ___________.
(i) Arabia
(ii) Hebrides
(iii) Scotland
(iv) England
Page 5


8 8
UNIT UNIT
Poetry
P. 3    The Solitary Reaper
by William Wordsworth
69
CBSE
1. Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a 
long time afterwards. Can you recollect this ever happening to you? If so, what 
was it? What do you remember about it now? Are the details of what you saw or 
the feelings you experienced at that time fresh in your mind? Think for a few 
minutes, then share your thoughts with the class.
2. Listen to one of William Wordsworth's poems, that describes a memorable 
experience he had while out on a walk. (Your teacher will play a recording.) Listen 
to the poem at least twice.
3. Now read the poem.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
5. 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 chant
10 More welcome notes to weary bands
Of  Travellers in some shady haunt.
 Among Arabian Sands
highland lass: a girl who lives in the highlands (mountain regions) of Scotland
reaping: cutting down and gathering a crop such as corn or rice
melancholy strain: sad song
vale profound: deep valley 
Arabian Sands: the deserts of Arabia (the Middle East)
CBSE
Poetry 
A voice so thrilling ne' er was heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird.
15 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,
20 And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day ? 
Same natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
that has been, and may be again ?
25     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
30 And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The Music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.
About the Poet
William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770, in Cockermouth in the Lake District, 
England. When many poets still wrote about ancient heroes in grandiloquent style, 
Wordsworth focussed on nature, children, the poor, common people and used 
ordinary words to express his feelings. He defined poetry as "the spontaneous 
overflow of powerful feelings" arising from "emotions recollected in tranquility". He 
died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850.
4. Imagine that you are the poet, William Wordsworth. You continue on your walk, 
and when you reach home you tell a friend what you saw and felt. Which of the 
following best describes your experience? (Work in pairs, then have a class 
discussion.)
70
farthest Hebrides: the most remote group of islands that lie to the north-west of Scotland
plaintive numbers: sad music
humble lay: ordinary song
sickle: a tool for cutting grass and grain crops. It has a short handle and a blade shaped like a hook.
CBSE
Poetry
71
a)    "I was walking past some fields when I saw a young girl, a farm worker, harvesting 
grain by hand, with a sickle. She was so beautiful that I stood out of sight and 
watched her for a long time. I have never seen anyone more gorgeous! In fact, 
she reminded me of other beautiful experiences I've had - the song of the 
nightingale or the cuckoo, for instance. I'd certainly like to see her again!"
b)     "As I was standing on the hill top just now, I heard a very sad and plaintive song. I 
looked down, and saw a young woman reaping grain, singing as she did so. She 
seemed very melancholy as she sang. But somehow her song brought great 
comfort and joy to me. In fact, I found it a very emotional experience. As I 
continued my walk along the hill top, I also heard a nightingale and a cuckoo. But 
the young farm worker's song affected me most deeply, even though I couldn't 
understand the words."
c) "Just now, as I was walking in the valley, I saw a young farm worker in the field. 
She was singing to herself as she worked. I was so affected by her singing, that I 
stopped and listened. She had a beautiful voice, which seemed to fill the whole 
valley. The song was a sad one, and I couldn't understand the words. But its 
plaintive tone and melancholy sound touched me greatly, and its beauty 
reminded me of the song of a nightingale or a cuckoo. After some time. I walked 
up the hill, carrying the memory of the young woman's song with me."
5. The poet could not understand the words of the song, yet he raised several 
possibilities about its theme. In the diagram below are some of these 
possibilities. Read the third stanza again, and find the phrase that matches each. 
Copy and complete the diagram, writing each phrase in the empty boxes. Work in 
pairs.
death or illness of 
a loved one
everyday, routine 
events
What is the theme of 
the solitary reaper's song?
a disaster or calamity in 
the past
an important historical 
event
CBSE
Poetry 
72
6. On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions 
by ticking the correct choice.
(a) The central idea of the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' is _____.
(i) well sung songs give us happiness
(ii) melodious sounds appeal to all
(iii) beautiful experiences give us life-long pleasure
(iv) reapers can sing like birds
(b) In the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' to whom does the poet say ' Stop here or gently 
pass'?
(i) to the people cutting corn
(ii) to himself
(iii) to the people who make noise
(iv) to all the passers by
(c) 'The Solitary Reaper' is a narrative poem set to music. This form of verse is called 
a______.
(i) ballad 
(ii) soliloquy
(iii) monologue
(iv) sonnet
(d) The poet's lament in the poem 'The Solitary Reaper' is that __________.
(i) he cannot understand the song
(ii) he did not know the lass
(iii) she stopped singing at once
(iv) he had to move away
(e) The setting of the poem is ___________.
(i) Arabia
(ii) Hebrides
(iii) Scotland
(iv) England
CBSE
Poetry
73
7.a) Read the second stanza again, in which Wordsworth compares the solitary 
reaper's song with the song of the nightingale and the cuckoo. On the basis of 
your reading (and your imagination), copy and complete the table below. (Work 
in groups of four, then have a brief class discussion.)
Solitary Reaper Scottish Highlands the poet holds him spellbound
Nightingale
Cuckoo
b) Why do you think Wordsworth has chosen the song of the nightingale and the 
cuckoo, for comparison with the solitary reaper's song?
c) As you read the second stanza, what pictures come to your mind? Be ready to 
describe them in your own words, to the rest of the class. (Do not be afraid to go 
beyond what the poet has written.)
8. In the sixth line of the first stanza, we read:
 "... and sings a melancholy strain,..."
This "s" sound at the beginning of sings and strain has been repeated. Poets often do 
this. Do you know why? Do you know what this "poetic repetition" is called? Can you 
find other instances of this, in The Solitary Reaper?
9. In the first stanza, some words or phrases have been used to show that the girl 
working in the fields is alone. Which are those words and phrases? What effect 
do they create in the mind of the reader?
10. Wordsworth was so moved by this experience that later he wrote this poem. 
Think back in your own life and try to recall an experience that affected you 
greatly and left a deep impact on you. Then write a poem for your school 
magazine in which you describe that experience and its impact.
Place Heard by Impact on listener
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