The Solitary Reaper

by William Wordsworth
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What figures of speech appear in "The Solitary Reaper?"

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The poet uses ecphonesis three times in the first stanza to stop and catch our attention in the same way the solitary reaper's song has caught his attention. Ecphonesis is an emotional exclamation or outburst. The three such exclamations used are the following:

Yon solitary Highland Lass! 


Stop here, or gently pass! 


O listen!

We know they are exclamations because they end with an exclamation point, indicating that the poet is suddenly arrested or emotionally stopped in his tracks by the reaper. An exclamation point is also such a strong stop that we too are slowed down in our reading and forced to pay attention. 

The poet uses alliteration, such as in the first lines of stanza two, in which consonant sounds are repeated. The repeated consonants are the "n" in the first line and the "w" in the second line:

No Nightingale did ever chaunt 
More welcome notes to weary bands 
Rhyming couplets build a sense of rhythm throughout the poem. Examples of such rhymes include "grain/strain," "hill/still," and "bore/more."
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Some figures of speech in The Solitary Reaper include:


This is when two or more words in proximity repeat vowel sounds. For example:

O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound


This figure of speech involves exaggeration for the purpose of emphasis. For example,

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.

The poet says that the Highland girl's voice is so beautiful that it is enough to break the calm stillness of the seas, even as far as the Hebride islands (off the coast of Scotland). This exaggeration serves to prove the beauty of the girl's singing.


This involves a comparison between two contradictory elements. In the poem, Wordsworth compares the girl's singing to that of the nightingale and the cuckoo bird.


This is when an author or poet addresses an imaginary character or a character who is not present in the story.

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!

Here, Wordsworth is addressing the reader and drawing the reader's attention to the beauty of the Highland girl's singing.


Imagery is figurative language used to appeal to our senses. For example,

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:

Above, the poet describes the ministering nature of the girl's voice. Her singing is so beautiful that it can refresh the spirits of tired travelers in a desert setting.

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