This is a beautiful short lyric of 32 lines. In this poem, the poet recalls a memorable experience. Once when he was in Scotland and walking past the highland, he came across a highland girl. She was reaping the harvest and binding the grain all by herself. She was singing a song as she worked. The poet was so impressed by her singing that he stopped and listened. Her voice was so enchanting that the whole valley was overflowing with the music of her song. To the poet it seemed more melodious then the song of either the nightingale singing to the weary bands of travelers in the Arabin deserts or the cuckoo-bird breaking the silence of the seas in the farthest island of Hebrides. The poet could not understand the meaning of her song as the girl was singing in a hilly (native) dialect. But the plaintive numbers seemed to relate the tale of some far off happening or natural sorrow or loss of parting from the near ones. Whatever was the theme of the girl’s song, it affected the poet greatly. He stood spellbound and listened quietly. He wished that the song would never come to an end. Even when he walked away, he carried the music with him. He remembered it till long after he had heard it no more. Thus the song of the reaper provided him a rich emotional experience.
TEXTUAL COMPREHENSION :
Read the extracts given below and answer the question that follow each :
1. No Nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of Travellers in some shady haunt.
Among Arabian Sands;
- Where does the nightingale sing ?
- Why are the Travellers weary?
- Why has the poet compared the nightingale’s song to that of the solitary reaper?
Ans . (i) The nightingale sings in an oasis in the deserts of Arabia.
(ii) The travelers are weary in the course of their journey through the desert.
(iii) The song of the nightingale is a very welcome sound to the tired travelers as it signifies that they are approaching an oasis. The song of the reaper arouses the same feelings of pleasure and joy in the poet. It also lends a feeling of romance in the poem.
2. Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps, the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
- Why does the poet use the word ‘perhaps’?
- What is the meaning of the phrase ‘plaintive numbers’?
- Mention the possibilities the poet has raised about the theme of the song.
Ans . (i) The poet uses the word ‘perhaps’ as he cannot understand the words of the Solitary reaper’s song since he is not familiar with the dialect, or he is too far Away to catch the words of the song.
(ii) ‘Plaintive numbers’ means that the reaper is singing a very sad and melancholy song.
(a) He feels it could be about some unhappy memories.
(b) It could be about some current topics.
(c) It could be about sad events in history e.g. battles fought in the past.
3. Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of today?
Some natural sorrow, loss or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
- What is the poet talking about in these lines?
- What does the poet mean by ‘humble lay’? What is the theme of the maiden’
- What is the significance of the last lines ?
Ans. (i) the poet is talking about the theme of the solitary reaper’s song.
(ii) ‘Humble lay’ means a song with a more modest theme or a song dealing with a mundane matter. The poet feels the song could be about some unhappy memories or a personal tragedy that the girl may have experienced.
(iii) The last lines show that the poet feels the girl may have an unhappy life and so her song is melancholy.
4. I listen’ d , motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
- Why did the poet listen to the song ‘motionless and still’?
- What effect does this music have on the poet?
- Why must the passer –by listen to the song?
Ans.(i) The poet does not wish to disturb the girl who was singing. So he listen to the song ‘motionless and still’.
(ii) The song mesmerizes the poet and he stop to listen to it. He carries the memory of the song in his heart long after he moves on his way.
(iii) The girl’s song is so sweet and melodious that it compels a passer-by To stop and listen to the song.
Why has poet chosen the song of the nightingale and the cuckoo-Bird for comparison with the song of the solitary reaper ?
Ans : wordsworth has chosen the song of the nightingale and the cuckoobecause these are the sweetest, most pleasant and most refreshing of all the song of the birds. Broth of them bring cheer and freshness to those who hear their songs in the desert of Arabia and the Hebrides islands respectively. By comparing these, the poet wants to say that the song of the solitary reaper far exceeded the magic, melody and sweetness of the songs of either the nightingale and the cuckoo-bird. The poet himself heard it resounding even after the reaper had stopped singing.
How does the poet try to analyse the song of the solitary reaper?
Ans : The poet couldn’t know the subject of the solitary reaper’s song.So he tried to analyse its subject. He thought that the reaper was, Perhaps, singing about old, unhappy, far-off things or battles. She might be singing about some ordinary things or familiar matters of life. She might be singing about some natural sorrow, loss or pain, which occur in life again and again. However, he couldn’t know the subject to her song as it was in her native dialect. The poet heard it resounding even after the reaper had stopped singing.