Spotlight Poetry – The Solitary Reaper – A poem by William Wordsworth 

The image depicts a painting titled Harvest by the artist Tatyana Ostapenko. The work is a vibrant semi-abstract figurative painting of women dressed in traditional folk garb during harvest time. The figures are carrying sheaves of corn set against a yellow and blue background. The image supports the poem The Solitary Reaper written by the poet William Wordsworth.
Painting Attribution © Tatyana Ostapenko, Harvest (Detail), 2019

The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth 

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,
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

Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,

Breaking the silence of the seas
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:
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
As if her song could have no ending;

I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listen’d, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,

The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Poem Attribution © William Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper

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Painting Attribution © Tatyana Ostapenko, Harvest (Detail), 2019

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