McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Solitary Reaper

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by NikhilDevasar

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by NikhilDevasar

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.

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

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.

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) by Nikhil Devasar

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) by Nikhil Devasar

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?

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

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:

Wordless Birds


Bible Birds – Cuckoo Introduction

Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) at NA by Dan at National Aviary

Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) at NA by Dan at National Aviary

Bible Birds – Cuckoo’s Introduction

The “Cuckoo” or old English”Cuckow” is found in these verses:

and the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after its kind, (Leviticus 11:16 YLT)

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, (Deuteronomy 14:15 KJV)

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the word used has several meanings and so some Bibles call the bird a Cuckoo or Cuckow, some a Gull. For now, we are introducing you to Cuckoos.

1) a ceremonially unclean bird

  • 1a) cuckow, gull, seagull, sea-mew
  • 1b) maybe an extinct bird, exact meaning unknown

Did you think Cuckoos only live in Clocks?

No, there actually is a bird called a Cuckoo. It belongs to a family Cuculidae – Cuckoos. There are 149 species in the family. Not only Cuckoos, but Coucals, Anis, Couas, and Malkohas are family members.

Here are some descriptions of North American Cuckoos: (from Color Key to NA Birds)

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor). Underparts uniformly rich buff; above grayish brown, crown grayer; ear-coverts black; tail black, outer feathers broadly tipped with white.

Range.—Northern South America, north through Central America, Mexico and Greater Antilles (except Porto Rico?) to Florida and Louisiana, migrating south in fall.

Maynard Cuckoo (C. m. maynardi). Similar to Mangrove Cuckoo, but underparts paler, the throat and forebreast more or less ashy white.

Range.—Bahamas and (eastern?) Florida Keys. (2012 Now Mangrove Cuckoo)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) Neal Addy Gallery

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) Neal Addy Gallery

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus). Length 12.2 in. Ads. Below white; lower mandible largely yellow, tail black, outer feathers widely tipped with white. Notes.Tut-tuttut-tuttut-tuttut-tutcl-uckcl-uckcl-uckcl-uckcl-uckcl-uckcowcowcowcowcowcow, usually given in part.

Range.—Eastern North America; breeds from Florida to New Brunswick and Minnesota; winters in Central and South America.

California Cuckoo (C. a. occidentalis). Similar to Yellow-billed Cuckoo but somewhat grayer and larger; the bill slightly longer, 1.05 in.

Range.—Western North America; north to southern British Columbia; east to Western Texas; winters south into Mexico.

Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) by Jim Fenton

Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) by Jim Fenton

Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythrophthalmus). Length 11.8. Ads. White below; bill black; tail, seen from below, grayish narrowly tipped with white; above, especially on crown, browner than Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Notes. Similar to those of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but softer, the cow notes connected.

Range.—Eastern North America; west to Rocky Mountains; breeds north to Labrador and Manitoba; winters south of United States to Brazil.

Cuckoo Sound with Pictures (From Poland)

Sort of sounds like the clock doesn’t it?

We will tell you more about the Cuckoo in the next Bible Birds – Cuckoo article.