The poem was written between 1803 and 1805 and was one of the memorials of a tour in Scotland, which Wordsworth made with his sister, and Coleridge in the autumn of 1813. William Wordsworth is the pioneer and prime mover of Romanticism (Romantic Period 1790-1830). His poetic creations, admiring natural beauty are great landmarks in the history of English poetry. His literary creations paved the way for giving significance to those things, which were regarded insignificant. He gave prime importance to common man, common objects and common language for the expression of delicate sentiments. A new poetic vision, which found a revelation of God in the beauties of nature, came into English poetry.
Emotions Recollected in Tranquility
The very title of the poem is suggestive. Wordsworth does not sing of lords and ladies. The title also indicates the poet’s love of solitude and silence. The idea of loneliness is indeed emphasized as many as four times in the very first stanza by such words as single, solitary, by herself alone. The noise and tumult of towns had no charm for him. What attracted him was:
The silence that is in the starry sky
The sleep that is among the lonely hills
The poem records the emotions of wonder and joy that the poet experienced during one of his solitary walks through the desolate Scottish Hills. The poem is an example of pure art. Here Wordsworth brings home a scene and its sentiment with the minimum of words and the maximum of power. “William Wordsworth is at his best inevitable as Nature herself. Nature not only gives him the matter for his poems, but seems to take the pen from his hands and to write his poem out for him with her own bare, sheer, penetrating power”, said Arnold. No poem can illustrate this better than The Solitary Reaper. Lastly, the poem is remarkable for its memorableness and lovers of poetry know it.
State of Vivid Sensation
The first stanza provides the frame for the entire poem. It describes how while walking through the Highlands, he hears someone singing. This sudden encounter with unexpected produces strange effect upon him. He finds out that this song is sung by lonely girl who is working alone in the field, in a valley below and the valley itself is echoing with the song. The voice and melody are profound and the whole valley is under the spell of its musicality.
Bewitching Nightingale’s Thrilling Voice
In the second stanza, an attempt is made to convey his joy to the reader. He says that he feels himself like a traveler in the vast stretches of the Arabian deserts who had been made joyous by listening to a nightingale. Or probably he felt like a man who had spent winter in icy Hebrides. Both the birds brought the joy to the lonely man. Highland girl’s song had the same effect upon the poet. The poet believes that the highland girl’s song is more beautiful than that of a song bird’s singing which gives a bid of welcome to the exhausted travelers in Arabian deserts. The travelers get away with their worries and anxieties of their painful journey. It proves to be revitalizing and life generating thing for the people who come across with it.
Capacity to Preserve a Finer Experience
The fourth stanza describes the end of the incidence and return to the world of facts. He knows that the song will no go over forever, nor he can stop there to listen. The soft and sad music of that reaper enters into the inmost recesses of poet’s soul and long lingers in his memory. Life must go on but the memory of the experience shall always remain alive.
At length, the song comes to an end and the poet climbs up the hill and preserves the music in his heart. He recaps and recollects the pleasant moments and finer experience, when he is alone passing his quite and peaceful time of life. Finally, it can be concluded that in order to understand and appreciate any musical song, familiarity with language is not essential. The medium to convey feelings is not language but the melody, rhythm and music of song makes one’s emotions known to others. It has universal appeal and leaves lasting impacts. It is concluded that language itself is not a barrier. Song can’t be cloistered. It spreads its fragrance in the universe, breaking the bondage of restrictions and limitations.