Why does Wordsworth call the solitary reaper's song 'A melancholy strain'?

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In "The Solitary Reaper," William Wordsworth describes a scene from the Scottish highlands: a "solitary Highland Lass [girl].../Reaping and singing by herself."

The narrator of the poem refers to the girl's song as a "melancholy strain"; melancholy means sad, and strain is another word for tune or melody,...

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In "The Solitary Reaper," William Wordsworth describes a scene from the Scottish highlands: a "solitary Highland Lass [girl].../Reaping and singing by herself."

The narrator of the poem refers to the girl's song as a "melancholy strain"; melancholy means sad, and strain is another word for tune or melody, so the poem is referring to the girl's song as a sad song.

The narrator seems to be, like Wordworth himself, an Englishman, so he does not understand the Scottish girl's song: "Will no one tell me what she sings?"

Still, the narrator thinks that the song seems to be sad.  Perhaps the girl sings of "old, unhappy, far-off things," or of "some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, / That has been, and may be again."

It could be that the narrator feels that the girl is probably sad because she is working alone.  Or perhaps he is merely projecting his own melancholy on to the image of the girl.  He continues to carry the girl's music in his heart "long after it was heard no more"; was he also thinking melancholy thoughts long before he saw her?

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