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In William Wordsworth’s poem Solitary Reaper, nature is presented in the cold, dark atmosphere native to the region in which this poet was raised. Wordsworth was born in the northwestern region of England called Cumberland, which abuts Scotland, and "Solitary Reaper" reflects the natural beauty of that region, but also reflects the solitary, almost desolate environment of its vast countryside. "Solitary Reaper" tells the narrator’s story of encountering, perhaps from afar, a lone woman working grain fields, singing while she labors (“Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain”). The narrator, presumably a traveler passing through, is mesmerized by the haunting beauty of this lone woman’s singing, and reflects upon the lyrics of the mournful song:
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago
Enchanted by the woman’s singing, the traveler nevertheless continues his journey, the song now a fixture in his subconscious. His journey, however, takes him across the fields and mountains of Scotland, and the reader is left to visualize the natural beauty of that region. Scotland is known both for its geographical attributes and for the sense of desolation its rural areas suggest. Wordsworth captures that atmosphere well, and his respect for both the beauty of the environment and for its eternal loneliness is felt in "Solitary Reaper."
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