Study Guide

The Solitary Reaper Summary

By William Wordsworth

The Solitary Reaper Summary

"The Solitary Reaper" opens with the speaker directing our attention to a solitary reaper (someone who cuts down crops—like corn or rye—by hand). She's singing in a field somewhere. She's a highland lass, and she's singing while she works. It's kind of a sad song, but it's definitely more thrilling than a cuckoo's song in the Hebrides (sure, what isn't?) and different than anything you might hear from a nightingale. The speaker loves the song, but he can't understand any of it. He wonders if she's singing about old battles and other sad stuff from forever ago, or if she's singing about something more humble. Either way, he notes that she's singing as if her song will never end. He watches, enraptured, not moving at all. At the end he quietly walks away, keeping the woman's music in his heart for a long time after.

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