Name synonyms and antonyms in the poem "The Solitary Reaper."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Romantic poet William Wordsworth uses synonyms in the first stanza to emphasize the singularity of the "Highland Lass" the speaker spies in a field. He uses the words "single," "solitary," "alone" and the phrase "by herself" to describe her situation of being on her own.

In the second stanza, the poet uses words and phrases that are antonyms to emphasize the beauty of the lass's singing. A "chaunt," "notes," and a "voice" oppose the use of the word "silence."

There are both similarities and contrasts in the third stanza. The synonyms "plaintive, "unhappy" "sorrow," "loss" and "pain" contrast with the antonyms "long ago" and "to-day" as the speaker speculates on the meaning of the girl's song.

In the final stanza, the speaker uses opposing ideas again. The speaker first listens "motionless and still," and then recalls he "mounted up the hill," denoting movement. He remembers the music that he can no longer hear.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the first two lines of the poem, Wordsworth calls the Highland Lass both "single" and "solitary," which reinforces how alone the woman is as she reaps and binds. Wordsworth also uses the synonyms "motionless" and "still" to describe the narrator as he listens to the reaper singing her solitary song. Such repetition, in the same line no less, emphasizes how spellbound the narrator is made by the singing. It is as if he had been turned into a statue. Her song itself is called both "plaintive" and "melancholy," both words carrying the connotation of sadness and lament.

I don't find any antonyms per se, but there is a juxtaposition of opposites in stanza three. Here, the poet speculates on what the subject of the reaper's song might be: she might be singing about the olden days and faraway places or she might be warbling a tune about present sorrows: "familiar matter of today."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial