‘The Solitary Reaper’ is William Wordsworth’s rendition of the delight a simple peasant girl derives from nature and how the entire atmosphere reverberates with that happiness.
The poet sees a highland girl reaping the harvest and singing. The poet compares her song with the song of the nightingale, soothing his sorrows, easing his weariness, just the same way as the nightingale welcomes the weary travellers in the shady oasis of the Arabian sands. The maiden’s song is also compared to the song of the cuckoo bird which is the harbinger of summer and ushers in happiness. The song of the maiden is as thrilling and persuasive as the song of the cuckoo bird which is effective enough to break the silence of the seas.
The poet cannot understand the dialect of the song, he is unable to comprehend its meaning but is able to gauge from its sad tone that it probably relates to some unhappy memories, some battles fought long ago. The poet also feels that the song may be about the commonplace things like joys or sorrows.
The poet feels that the girl’s song would have no end and would continue forever. The poet saw the girl singing as she bent over her sickle. The song of the maiden was so mesmerising and spellbinding that it held the poet motionless and still. When the poet started mounting the hill, the song could not be heard but it left an indelible mark on the poet’s heart. For the poet, it would always remain a fresh evocative memory. The poem also shows how the appeal of music is universal.