Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
The Solitary Reaper
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,        5
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
 
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands        10
Of travellers in some shady haunt
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from a Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas        15
Among the farthest Hebrides.
 
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:        20
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
 
Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang        25
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,        30
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
(1803.)    
 
 
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