Poetry here to eternity

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  • Created on: 04-06-10 10:40

The Solitary Reaper analysis

Main themes : the healing powers of nature. Death and life cycles. Power of the girl because of her proximity to nature and the symbolism of her work of cutting and binding

Summary: The poet orders his listener to behold a "solitary Highland lass" reaping and singing by herself in a field. He says that anyone passing by should either stop here, or "gently pass" so as not to disturb her. As she "cuts and binds the grain" she "sings a melancholy strain," and the valley overflows with the beautiful, sad sound. The speaker says that the sound is more welcome than any chant of the nightingale to weary travelers in the desert, and that the cuckoo-bird in spring never sang with a voice so thrilling.Impatient, the poet asks, "Will no one tell me what she sings?" He speculates that her song might be about "old, unhappy, far-off things,And battles long ago," or that it might be humbler, a simple song about "matter of today." Whatever she sings about, he says, he listened "motionless and still," and as he traveled up the hill, he carried her song with him in his heart long after he could no longer hear it.

Title: The name itself is quite ambiguous. Reaper means someone who literally gather harvest. However, there are also connotations of death. Traditionally, the grim reaper is death personified, and so this title evokes this death.

Structure: It is a ballard, and The four eight-line stanzas of this poem are written in a tight iambic tetrameter. Each follows a rhyme scheme of ABABCCDD, though in the first and last stanzas the "A" rhyme is off (field/self and sang/work). This emphasizes the song like quality of the poem, which reflects the girl singing in the poem.


1) ‘Reaping and singing by herself. Stop here, or gently pass?’

The girl is somehow very isolated in her work, like a hermit. It is emphasized several times that the girl is alone, emphasizing in terms of work that she is quite


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