What is the summary of "The Solitary Reaper"?  

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wordsworth's poem "Solitary Reaper" is the speaker's thoughts regarding his happening upon a young "Highland lass" who is reaping (cutting or gathering- as with crops) and singing to herself. The speaker is so enamoured with the young woman that he begins to compare her voice to those of the birds with whom he is very familiar.

The speaker states that the young woman's voice is like no other he has heard. It cannot be replicated by the nightingale, and it breaks the silence like not even the cuckoo bird can.

In the third stanza, the speaker ponders the meaning of the young woman's song. He is not familiar with the song and seems so intrigued by it that he believes that knowing the meaning will make the song mean even more to him.

In the final stanza, the speaker decides that the meaning of the song is unimportant. Instead, he seems to realize that the song, regardless of influence of meaning, changed him:

The music in my heart I bore, /Long after it was heard no more.

In the end, the poem is simply about the life-changing outcome of a perchance happening upon a woman harvesting.


Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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