The Solitary Reaper

by William Wordsworth
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What is the main theme of the poem 'the Solitary Reaper'?

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The solitary reaper is an ordinary peasant girl. Her soulful song lends an ecstatic experience to the poet. He gets a glimpse of eternity and experiences perfection hearing her mellifluous voice. Perhaps the poet had never felt so blissful before. This might be one of the most wonderful and pleasurable experiences of his life.

In his Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth unequivocally states his theory of poetry. He says, “Poetry is the image of man and nature.” He professes “to choose incidents and situations from common life.” According to him in “humble and rustic life” “the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language because in that condition… the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.”

To Wordsworth nature stands supreme. He deifies nature as mother, provider of joy and happiness, healer and his best companion. He spiritualizes nature and glorifies it in most of his poems.

'The Solitary Reaper' is one of the most representative poems of Wordsworth’s work. It’s about a humble village girl. The poet finds her reaping in a field when he overhears her song. This implies that she is more closely attached to nature than somebody from a city. Her appealing song is a testimony to her uncorrupted mind and purity of soul.

It is neither in the busy streets of London nor in the company of his learned friends that the poet finds this blissful experience. He finds it in the countryside from a rustic girl. The poet’s objective and the theme of the poem are thus very clear. One can get a glimpse of infinity or perfection, which is absolute and supreme, only if one is closer to nature. It’s only in the purity of soul and simplicity of character that you achieve that.

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