Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
(These were the opening lines that introduced me to what was to become one of my most close-to-the-heart poems in later life.Additionally, it introduced me to the poet extraordinaire’ – William Wordsworth.I still remember our lean and old English teacher, also the Vice Principal of our school, eulogizing these opening lines in his rather loud and piercing voice,as he had begun the class that day.He was excited about teaching us this literary masterpiece and had failed to notice he was speaking quite loudly; which made our Principal sir, who was incidentally teaching in the next classroom come and stand at the door,smiling, until our Vice Principal took notice; and to whom our Principal sir had gestured in a rather amiable way to ‘teach in a lower voice’!)
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
(I had become fascinated with the way Wordsworth wrote.His lines had a lucid flow and the pictures he painted with words created vivid imagination.I had begun searching for more of his poems. I was thrilled when I got hold of his another masterpiece- I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud.I have read both these poems so many times, I often quote from them, and often write them, just to get a feel of the beautiful lines. )
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.
(Very recently I watched a BBC documentary that had dramatized parts of his life and that gave me a glimpse of his personality.He was a wanderer, and he would row across the lake, walk into the forests, climb up the hills, stay inside abandoned caves- all alone watching,observing,feeling and composing.It was the Nature- The Magnificent,The Epitome of Beauty and The Abode of all the Powers that motivated him.He would spend several days in Natural shelter away from home and the lines will dawn to him, as if Nature spoke through him!)
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
(I just couldn’t resist to write this post as I saw that 7th of April happens to be his date of birth.I am tempted to mention a few lines from Wikipedia, like-
“William Wordsworth was a major English poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).”
“The second of five children, he was born in Wordsworth House in Cumberland,part of the scenic region in northwestern England known as the Lake District. His sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, to whom he was close all his life, was born the following year, and the two were baptised together.”
“He returned to Hawkshead for the first two summers of his time at Cambridge, and often spent later holidays on walking tours, visiting places famous for the beauty of their landscape. In 1790 he went on a walking tour of Europe, during which he toured the Alps extensively, and visited nearby areas of France, Switzerland, and Italy.”)
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?
(Wordsworth gave the definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” How true and profound! Poetry, I believe, is the most powerful form of expression.Words are confined to the boundaries of their meanings,but poets make them ascend to a higher level of abstraction, where they cease to have boundaries , and carry a greater intensity of emotions! I truly respect Wordsworth for his love of Nature and the memorable verses in which he has immortalized his thoughts.I am hopeful, every admirer of poetry will cherish his works and find his poems a true Literary treasure gratefully passed on to us!)
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.
-The Solitary Reaper, by William Wordsworth