Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND, 1803

VIII. THE SOLITARY REAPER

          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                           10
          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:                                       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
          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.


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