McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Solitary Reaper
William Wordsworth, 1770-1850, the founder of the “Lake School” of poets, was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. From his boyhood he was a great lover and student of nature, and it is to his beautiful descriptions of landscape, largely, that he owes his fame. He was a graduate of Cambridge University, and while there commenced the study of Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Shakespeare, as models for his own writings. Two legacies having been bequeathed him, Wordsworth determined to make poetry the aim of his life, and in 1795 located at Racedown with his sister Dorothy, where he commenced the tragedy of “The Borderers.” A visit from Coleridge at this period made the two poets friends for life. In 1802 Wordsworth married Miss Mary Hutchinson, and in 1813 he settled at Rydal Mount, on Lake Windermere, where he passed the remainder of his life.
Wordsworth’s poetry is remarkable for its extreme simplicity of language. At first his efforts were almost universally ridiculed, and in 1819 his entire income from literary work had not amounted to 140 Pounds. In 1830 his merit began to be recognized; in 1839 Oxford University conferred upon him the degree of D. C. L.; and in 1843 he was made poet laureate.
“The Excursion” is by far the most beautiful and the most important of
Wordsworth’s productions. “Salisbury Plain,” “The White Doe of Rylstone,”
“Yarrow Revisited,” and many of his sonnets and minor poems are also much
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;
Oh listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travelers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In springtime 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 listened motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV)
Please leave a comment about whether these are helpful and enjoyable to you, your children, or your grandchildren. Maybe, even your students.
These are coming from the Gutenberg books online: