How and why does the poet compare the reaper's song in "The Solitary Reaper"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The speaker of this poem tries to describe the qualities of the singing of the reaper which impresses him so greatly in the second stanza. However, he finds that even the greatest examples of pure music and sound that he can think of do not do justice to the pure beauty of the reaper's voice that he is listening to now. Let us examine the second stanza in detail:
No Nightingale did ever chaunt More welcome notes to weary bands Of travellers in some shady haunt, Among Arabian sands: A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird, Breaking the silence of the seas Among the farthest Hebrides.
Two birds that are normally considered to be symbols of the beauty of music, the nightingale and the cuckoo, are therefore dismissed as being suitable comparisons to the music that the speaker is hearing right now. The comparisons that the poet therefore draws only serve to emphasise the way in which the singing of the reaper represents an unearthly beauty that does not find a parallel in real life.

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