The Solitary Reaper Questions and Answers
by William Wordsworth

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What are the poet's first thoughts when he sees the solitary reaper in William Wordsworth's "The Solitary Reaper"?

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The speaker's first thought, when he observes the solitary reaper—a young maiden who is cutting and binding the grain in the field while she sings a song to herself—is that her song is a "melancholy strain" (line 6). Though he cannot understand the language in which she sings, he identifies the sadness of the tune. He goes on to claim that no song sung by nightingales has ever felt so welcome to weary travelers, who only wish to stop for the night, as this young woman's song was to him; moreover, no notes from a cuckoo have ever been so welcome to sailors on the lookout for...

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