The Solitary Reaper (1805) is a famous romantic poem written by the great English poet William Wordsmith after his trip to Scotland. It is actually a poem of praise for the beauty of nature and the simple common rural people; thus it creates a harmoniousness’s, peaceful and pleasant atmosphere to readers. Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of ancient Greece, suggested that the arts arise out of two impulses: the impulse for harmony and the impulse to imitate.
Cohn Leo, 1984) It is o exception to poetry. The former impulse is referred to the harmonious pattern of sounds, and the latter one in poems is sound and sense. Therefore, apart from introducing the life of William Wordsmith, this paper will analyses this poem in phonetic, lexical, syntactic and semantic aspects. In addition, it will then probe into the major characteristics of romantic poetry. Finally, this poem can be better appreciated. II Key Words William Wordsmith, Beauty of Nature, Romantic Poetry Ill Body 1.
Brief Account of William Wordsmith Most William Wordsmith’s poems are concerning solitude, such as I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (1804), She Dwelt Among the Untutored Ways (1799) and The Solitary Reaper (1805). It seems that William Wordsmith enjoys the solitude of mind that, as far as he was concerned, could bring out a sublimation of soul. It is also important to be noted that William Wordsmith was greatly attracted by Nature which has been the theme of most of his famous poems.
The reason for his preference for this theme can probably traced back to his early life experiences. William Wordsmith, (1770-1850), was the second child of John and Ann Wordsmith at Courthouse, Cumberland, on April 7th, 1770. Wordsmith was living a happy holding at Courthouse until 1778, when his mother died and the family was split up. Wordsmith’s sister Dorothy was sent to live at Halifax with her mother’s cousin, and the boys of the family were sent to school at Washed where they were educated well and cared tort.
I t is very likely a TN t William Wordsmith became a solitary person who has few friends but only Nature. In his writings about childhood experiences in The Prelude he was often alone, as in the incident of the stolen boat (1 . 356-400), or if he was in company, would stand apart for a while to consider nature, as in the ice skating incident (1 . 15-462). However, owing to this solitary nature, William Wordsmith had gained an opportunity to think deeply and quietly, more importantly, to appreciate the beauty of Nature that is, more often than not, easily ignored by people.
Just this solitary gave inspiration to William Wordsmith’s numerous famous poems. 2. Brief Account of the Poem 1) Summary The first stanza is the introduction of the poet’s encountering a solitary Scottish rustic girl who was reaping and singing a fascinating, melancholy song which had a charm for William Wordsmith. In the second stanza, the poet made two sharp comparisons f the melody to the sweet voice of a nightingale and the song sang by a cuckoo-bird in spring. Moreover, he stated that her song was far more beautiful than them.
The third stanza is about the poet’s speculation of the content of the song which was sung in Scot?whether it was about some old, sad matters or some sufferings of present time. The fourth stanza serves as a conclusion in which the poet emphasizes the lingering effect of the music on William Wordsmith. 2) Paraphrase Look at that girl, a lone young Scottish rustic girl in the field! She is reaping and singing, alone. You should stop here, or Just pass silently! She is cutting and binding the wheat and, singing a sorrowful song all for herself.
Oh! Listen please, because the bottomless valley is reverberating with the fascinating sound. Never did a nightingale sing out sweeter notes than the lonely girl to the tired, lonely groups of travelers in an oasis-like place amidst the Arabian Desert; nor did a cuckoo-bird sing ever sing such a melodic song in spring time so as to break the calmness of the Saracens among the farthest Hebrides. Can anyone tell me what she is singing? Maybe it is about the sentimental lines of old, unpleasant, far-reaching matters and the wars long ago.
Or s it about some sadder ballad of today’s familiar feelings, such as some natural sorrowful, somber or painful ones, which have been experienced, and may be experienced again in the future? No matter what the theme the young girl is singing, her song seems to be endless. I watch her singing to herself when bending and cutting the grain with her sickle. I listened, silently and without a move. Then, when I climbed up the mountain, the melody of the song was still lingering in my mind long after it was not been heard any more. 3.
Major Theme of the Poem The Solitary Reaper is a romantic poem written tater William Wordsmith’s trip wrought Scottish highlands. The images of the beautiful scenery of countryside attracted him greatly. The poet narrated an experience of a short encounter with a solitary Scottish rustic girl whose song in Scot took him deeply. Therefore, William Wordsmith watch her singing to herself in a distance so as not to disturb her. Wordsmith is in awe of the girl’s voice although the meaning of the song was incomprehensible to him.
Further, the tone of this poem is pleasant and it is a poem of praise on the natural beauty of countryside as well as the rusticity of the simple rural people. The theme throughout the whole poem seems to be the beauty of the song, and the lingering effect it leaves upon the poet. 4. Linguistic Presentation of the Theme a. Phonological Features of the Poem Sound In the four stanzas, the first and fourth stanzas follow strictly the rhyme pattern BACKED, while the second and third stanzas are in the pattern of ABUSED. Moreover, there are many repetitions of vowel and consonant sounds, making emphasis, unity and harmony.
For example, the repetition of ling/ sounds occurs throughout the poem. (single, reaping, singing, sing, nightingale, thrilling, spring, reeking, thing, ending, bending) Even in the same line, there are the same sound, for example, sorrow, loss, or pain (Line 23) or listened, motionless and still (Line 29), Meter The four eight-line stanzas of this poem are written mainly in an iambic tetrameter. Each stanza is interrupted by a three-footed third line which breaks down the long octave into “digestible” units. Therefore, in this way, William Wordsmith invited the reader to pause at this point. B.
Lexical Features of the Poem Firstly, William Wordsmith used some poetic or obsolete words, for example, Behold (Look, See), Yon (CB. German “Jane”), vale (valley) vale profound (word-order); (Stanza 1) chant (sing) (Stanza 2); numbers (lines, verses); lay (ballad, song) (Stanza 3). Secondly, one of the most striking lexical characteristics of the poem is repetition of words which express more or less the same meaning. For example, solitude is the theme throughout the poem, and William Wordsmith skillfully chose numerous to create a peaceful atmosphere in which readers are able to concentrate on the “elementary feelings”.
The evidence can be found in the following: Solitary (title); single, solitary, by herself, Alone (Stanza 1). Besides, the comparisons in Stanza 2 describe solitary scenes: lonely travelers… In an oasis-like place (shady haunt) amidst a desert; the silence of the seas [Among the farthest Hebrides; still (Stanza 4). Another example is the recurrence of words meaning sound and music. There are: singing, sings, listen, sound (Stanza 1); nightingale chant, notes, voice, heard, cuckoo-bird (Stanza 2); tell, sings, numbers, lay (Stanza 3); sang, song, singing, listened, music, heard (Stanza 4).
By emphasizing the meaning of solitude and music, the poem implicates a harmony, for the rustic Scottish girl’s sweet voice stands out in such a peaceful countryside background. This is probably why The Solitary Reaper is so popular. Thirdly, the word overflow does impress me most. Owing to this word, the sounds of nature sung out by the solitary girl are so vivid that readers seem to visualize the smooth movement of the notes within the valley as well as to hear the song.
In other words, William Wordsmith successfully transferred the sense of hearing into visual, tactile and kinesthesia feelings. C. Syntactic Features of the Poem Imperative Sentence There are a number of imperative sentences in this poem, especially in Stanza 1, for example, Behold her (Line 1); Stop here, or gently pass! (Line 4); Oh, listen! (Line 7) With these imperatives, the poet actually addressed readers directly. Therefore, the distant between he him and readers has been shortened. More importantly, the inviting beginning of this poem can quickly grasp readers’ attention.
Furthermore, naturally, readers will follow the poet’s direction to involve themselves into the tranquility of the scene and the sounds of nature. Inverses Sentence Inverses sentences appear mainly in Stanza 2, for example, No Nightingale did ever chant… LO); A voice so thrilling newer was heard… (Line 13) Obviously, William Wordsmith skillfully used inverses sentences with the purpose of attracting readers, and more importantly, emphasizing that the solitary reaper’s voice was matchless. Moreover, it should be noticed that using inverses structure could keep the balance of sentences.
In addition, it is really admirable that William Wordsmith wisely chose two comparisons in which two contrasting notions, that is, Arabian sands (Line 12) and the farthest Hebrides (Line 16). One is a desert, and the other is an archipelago. Rhetorical Question One can notice that rhetorical questions are used in this poem, all in the Stanza 3, Since it is devoted to the poet’s wonders and speculation of the meaning of the song, the poet could not help asking some questions . For instance, Will no one tell me what she sings? (Line 17); or is it some more humble lay, Familiar matter of today? Line 21,22); That has been, and may be again? (Line 24) Although William Wordsmith asked these questions to himself, they are actually asked to the readers. Thereby, the poet subtly got his readers involved in the perception of the scene, or rather, made them participate in his musings. Besides, the questions he raised seem to have no exact answers; therefore, the emphasis of the impressiveness of the sound is created here. Moreover, rhetorical questions in Stanza 3 diversify the structure of the poem, by compared with the more complex structure in Stanza 2; therefore make the sentence patterns more various.
Parallelism In Stanza 2, parallelisms introduced by No and Among emphasize the Scottish girl’s unique, natural voice, which can show that the poet was greatly impressed by the girl’s voice in its own peculiar way. In addition, parallelism in poetry can make the poem sound more musical. Double Negation It is easy to find out the first sentence at the beginning of Stanza 3 is a seemingly illogical sentence. (Will no one tell me what she sings? ) Generally, in modern English, according to the grammar rule, two negatives make a positive.
However, the double negation structure used by William Wordsmith here is by no meaner illogical, because such structures were found in all dialects of English of the earlier periods. Why the poet used the double negation at the very beginning of Stanza 3 is that he intended to emphasize that what he appreciated most is the songs tone and the beauty of nature rather than the explicit content. . Semantic Features of the Poem The Manner of Speech The Solitary Reaper is not a complex romantic poem, compared with others written by William Wordsmith.
It is rather straightforward and easy to understand, because the poet poem is written in first person narration and Wordsmith almost seemed to be talking to himself, but at the same time he is explaining a story to the reader. Therefore, he chose plain words. Moreover, he mainly used simple sentences to express his feelings such as the imperative sentences in Stanza 1 and some questions raised in Stanza 3. In this way, the poet seems to be a friend of readers, ND readers can undoubtedly feel the strong feelings of the poet.
Synonym The themes of solitude and music throughout the poem are embodied by numerous synonyms, for instance, single, solitary, by herself, Alone (Stanza 1). Sound, notes, voice, numbers, lay, music Anza Witt these synonyms, William Wordsmith impressed readers of the beauty of sounds of nature. Moreover, owing to the synonyms, the poem is in every sense consistent. 5. Conclusion Mr.. Sinecure 0 once said: “In the whole expanse of poetry there can hardly be more perfect and profound one than The Solitary Reaper” and exalted beauty. Indeed, The
Solitary Reaper is a poem showing that common everyday events can have special significance and impact on us. It seems to bring us into a peaceful world in which all the worries and sorrow disappear but only full of the sweet sound sung by the lovely rustic girl, which actually brings peace to our mind. In conclusion, the charms of this poem lie mainly in four characteristics of it which are also the features of Romantic poetry. Love of Nature Wordsmith’s reference to the Vale profound (Line 6) reflects the mighty of the valley. In addition, the songs of birds (Line 9-16) show the pleasant of nature.
Both of these two examples manifest the power and mystery of nature. Mysterious Events and Ancient Places In this poem, examples of mysterious events and ancient places can be found in Stanza 2 and Stanza 3. For instance, the mysterious element is the lonely rustic girl’s voice (A voice so thrilling), besides, in Line 20, the poet spoke of Battles long ago. As for the ancient places are referred to the Line 11-12 (Arabian sands), and again in Line 16 (the Farthest Hebrides). Concern for Common People Just as Augusta Roding’s famous saying goes 0: Beauty is found everywhere.
Our eyes o not show a lack of sense of beauty, but a lack of observation. The character of this poem?a solitary rustic Scottish girl who is so common that is easily neglected by people reflects William Wordsmith’s special interests in common people and rural life. It cannot be better illustrated to this by what William Wordsmith once stated in Preface to the Second edition of the Lyrical Ballads (1800):” Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition the essential passions of the heart find a better soil… Because in that condition of life our elementary feelings coexist in state of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings, and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended, and are more durable; and, lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent torts to nature”