How does the poet describe nature in "The Solitary Reaper?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Solitary Reaper," Wordsworth describes nature in terms that are meant to trigger imagination and wonderment.

Wordsworth finds a vast amount of mystery in the natural world as the speaker in "The Solitary Reaper."  One example of this would be in the girl's song. Wordsworth considers her to be a part of the natural setting. The song of the "Highland Lass" has captured his imagination. Wordsworth is not clear as to what she is singing:  "Will no one tell me what she sings?"  In asking the meaning of her song and reflecting on what it might represent, Wordsworth expands his imagination to embrace what might be as opposed to what is.  In this way, the natural setting that includes the solitary reaper's song initiates wonderment.  Her song is a part of the beautiful mystery that is the natural world.

Once the speaker of the poem hears the song, his imagination begins to take over his sensibilities.  It does not matter that he lacks a clear understanding of the song's meaning.  The song inspires his mind to drift to alluring settings such as "Arabian sands," "the silence of the seas," and "the farthest Hebrides."  He does not think of the dreariness of the urban landscape or the blight of a slum.  The song moves Wordsworth's imagination to consider places in nature far removed from daily life. These natural settings initiate wide open thought.  When standing on the "Arabian sands" or in the midst of "the silence of the seas," one is able to engage in expansive thought.  This pondering might very well include the world and a person's place in it.  Wordsworth believes that broad level of thought is only possible when standing in the midst of nature.   In this way, the natural world is linked with wonderment and awe.  

Wordsworth believes that nature holds the key to unlocking our moral imagination.  Simply interacting with it in a meaningful way, as he does in "The Solitary Reaper," can unlock doors of thought and perception which embrace transformative possibilities.

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