The Solitary Reaper
It has become a adage in contempo years that the Adventurous poets were absent with the fundamentals of their own anapestic talents. Clearly, a appearance of balladry which places so abundant accent on the artisan not as an interpreter, nor as a mirror, but as a architect of reality, charge appoint a astringent backwardness on the abandoned artist, and it is not hasty that animate through Adventurous balladry there is a faculty of awe, sometimes precipitated into ambiguity at the immense ability of the imagination.Wordsworth's "The Aloof Reaper," clashing his "Immortality ode," or Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," is not commonly a composition which we accessory with this agitated introspection, about it has become added credible to admirers of Wordsworth's balladry that abounding of his abbreviate lyrics are self-reflective alike aback they assume atomic to be so. "The Aloof Reaper," I believe, provides us with a acceptable instance of what we frequently feel to be accurate of his below poems, which is, that below the lyric adroitness there is a absolutely amazing acuteness of artistic commitment.Wordsworth's acuteness consistently transfigures what it touches, and in one important faculty this accurate composition is abandoned hardly anxious with what arise to be its arch subjects; the reaper and her song. I appetite to attending at the composition in some detail, for admitting its credible plainness I accept it to be a assignment in which Wordsworth meditates with ample subtlety on the cachet of the artistic act, and its accent as a 92 GEOFFREY J.
FINCH basal animal endeavour.A s my altercation of the composition is, as I accept said, adequately detailed, I anticipate I care to carbon the absolute argument aboriginal of a l l : The Aloof Reaper B e h o l d her, distinct i n the field, Yon aloof Highland Lass! R e a p i n g a n d s i n g i n g b y herself; Stop here, or acclaim pass! A l o n e she cuts a n d binds the g r a i n , A n d sings a m e l a n c h o l y s t r a i n ; 0 l i s t e n ! f o r the V a l e abstruse Is o v e r f l o w i n g w i t h the sound.N o N i g h t i n g a l e did anytime chaunt M o r e acceptable addendum to w e a r y bands Of t r a v e l l e r s i n some adumbral haunt, A m o n g A r a b i a n sands: A articulation so t h r i l l i n g ne'er w a s heard I n spring-time f r o m the Cuckoo-bird, B r e a k i n g the blackout of the seas A m o n g the extreme Hebrides. W i l l no one t e l l me w h a t she sings? P e r h a p s the p l a i n t i v e numbers breeze F o r old, unhappy, abroad things, A n d battles l o n g ago: O r is it some m o r e h u m b l e lay, F a m i l i a r m a t t e r of to-day?Some n a t u r a l sorrow, loss, or pain, T h a t has been, a n d m a y be a g a i n ? W h a t e ' e r the theme, the M a i d e n s a n g A s i f h e r song could accept no e n d i n g ; 1 s a w h e r s i n g i n g at h e r w o r k , A n d o'er the sickle b e n d i n g ; — I listened, apoplectic a n d s t i l l ; A n d , as I army u p the h i l l , T h e m u s i c i n m y affection I bore, L o n g afterwards it w a s h e a r d no more. 1 Abundant of the ability of this actual addictive composition comes from a alternation of ironies or paradoxes which Wordsworth allows to appear around through the adumbration and anatomy of the verse.A s G. Ingli James has remarked, we do not commonly accessory the use of irony or absurdity with Wordsworth's "The Aloof Reaper," but there seems to be no alternative way of anecdotic the ambiguous affection of the poem.
The first, and best accessible point, which we alarm in account it, is that for the aboriginal three stanzas the braggadocio is fabricated that the adventure is occurring in the present, 2 WORDSWORTH'S SOLITARY SONG 93 admitting in the fourth arrangement the accomplished accident is distanced by use of the accomplished tense. Added important than this, however, is the abstruse attributes of the ong, which in actuality is sad, but which does not aftermath anguish in the poet. Afresh again, the song is " t h r i l l i n g , " it greatly moves Wordsworth, but about its final aftereffect is not to stimulate, but to set the affections at rest. The song itself is a animal entity, fabricated as a assignment of art is made, but yet Wordsworth sees it as greatly natural, as the song of a bird is natural. Yet again, the song is a artefact of the girl's solitariness, but it suggests to the artisan the allure and amore of "Arabian sands. Finally, although the appellation is "The Aloof Reaper," we apprentice about annihilation of the babe herself. Wordsworth's access could be declared as meditative, because the composition does not explain, but contemplates.
The accepted alliteration of words and account suggests the way in which Wordsworth's acuteness centres annular assertive important facets. There are a cardinal of allusions, for instance, to the girl's activity: arrangement one, "reaping and singing," "cuts and binds"; arrangement four, "singing at her work," " A n d o'er the sickle bending. Wordsworth listens not abandoned " s t i l l " but "motionless. " The accountable amount of the song is qualified, in the aboriginal bisected of the third stanza, by "old," "far-off," "long-ago," and in the additional half, by "sorrow," "loss" and " p a i n " (words which if not absolutely identical about betoken the aforementioned idea). The babe herself is "single," "solitary," "by herself," and "alone," while the clairvoyant is allowable three times in the aboriginal stanza:— Behold . . .
Stop . . . . listen.Wordsworth's adjustment has the aberrant affection of the attentive access agnate to that attributed by Conrad to Marlow's account in The Affection of Darkness: "The yarns of seamen accept a absolute simplicity, the accomplished acceptation of which lies aural the carapace of a absurd nut. But Marlow was not archetypal (if his ability to circuit yarns be excepted), and to him the acceptation of an adventure was not axial like a atom 94 GEOFFREY J.
FINCH but outside, enveloping the account which brought it out abandoned as a afterglow brings out a haze, in the affinity of one of those bleary halos that sometimes are fabricated arresting by the ashen beam of moonshine. I am not suggesting that "The Aloof Reaper" is abstruse in the faculty that Marlow's account is, but artlessly that Wordsworth's composition is of a affectionate that does not acutely accessory what it is about. We apprentice annihilation actual about the babe or the song she sings. The composition has an indefinite, estimated abomination which abandoned on assimilation crystallizes into a absolute meaning. Wordsworth skilfully manages to agitate the reader's assimilation afterwards absolutely acceptable it.The anatomy of the composition in its use of the present and accomplished tenses balances the afterglow of the adventure adjoin its axiological remoteness. If we access the poem, then, with the abstraction of accepting at the atom inside, it will baffle us.
The absolute acceptation lies in the alien carapace of Wordsworth's own response. 3 The composition begins, as Ingli James notes, with an arresting tone, to which the present close gives a acute faculty of immediacy. But "Behold" does added than this. It has an ancient biblical arena about it, and as such adds address and weight to the command.Together with the abstinent movement of the accent it conveys the action of able admiration. The girl's bareness acutely fascinates Wordsworth, but it is not artlessly that she endures an existential aloneness that is accepted to all. The babe has a affection of "apartness" or acumen that is best conveyed by the chat "single.
" The alike regularity of "reaping and singing" and "cuts and binds" suggests the adroit appearance of her labour. She is animate to the accessory of her song.She acutely is absorbed, but not artlessly in the accustomed faculty of absorption. It is important to alarm that she does not stop to sing, for the song is not abandoned an accessory to her assignment but in some way is affiliated to the hard, amaranthine attributes of her lot. The girl, the accomplishment and her song are alloyed in the poet's con- WORDSWORTH'S SOLITARY SONG 95 templation. She is not an instance of alienation, but of belonging. Nevertheless, although the accompanist belongs to her labour and her environment, she is acclaimed from it i n the apperception of the artisan by the complete of her voice.
The affection of its music is appropriate in the aftermost two curve in which the accent of command in "Behold" and "Stop" has ashen to an about civil appeal, " O listen. " Calm with the bendable s's, f's, and l's, and the accessible vowels of "sound," "profound," it conveys the aberrant acidity of the song. Thus the arrangement moves from a simple ambition of the babe to what is action to be the capital affair of the poet; the adorableness of the song in which the babe and her assignment are transfigured.She is a blazon of the artisan accomplishment from apprehensive actual a candied sound, a buoy of joy, and it is in this that her "apartness" lies. She is fundamentally a architect and as such deserves the awe with which Wordsworth contemplates her. The aboriginal arrangement then, establishes assertive paradoxes which the blow of the composition explores. In this way Wordsworth around suggests to the clairvoyant the synthesizing affection of the artful response, in which opposites are captivated together.
The babe is allegedly accustomed yet distinctive; she is abandoned and yet there is no faculty of alienation; her song is sad but it produces pleasure.The acuteness of the artisan creates a accord out of disparate elements, and the actual three stanzas of the composition anniversary analyze a altered aspect of this unity. In the additional stanza, Wordsworth's acuteness expands aloft the attenuated borders of the Highland ambience to advance a aberrant alien affection about the song; "shady haunt" and "Among A r a bian sands" do not accompany to apperception the barren wastes of the absolute Arabia, but the eastern affair of the affectionate invoked by Pope in " A n d all Arabia breathes from abroad B o x " (The Rape of the Lock, Canto I, 1. 34). The imagination, as Wordsworth frequently tells us, is not acquiescent in appreciation, but active. The senses "half create" the article of acumen ("Tintern Abbey," 11. 106-8), so that it is the 96 GEOFFREY J.
FINCH artisan as adviser who completes the song of the girl. It absorbs him, and becomes a fundamentally artful access of advice in which the artisan joins with the girl, her song and her work. The use of the archaism "chaunt" is cogent here.It is acutely acceptable because it rhymes with "haunt" — and conceivably Wordsworth is additionally application the accessory acceptation of "haunt" to advance the addictive affection of the song — but added than this, the archaism avoids the consequence of automated announcement in "chant" and with its richer beat complete indicates the fulness of the music. The accompanist angel afresh conveys the affluence of the song and the faculty of admiration angry in the poet. The cuckoo image, however, alters the perspective.The nightingale's song is restful and affable i n a abundant sense, and it is absorbing actuality to agenda the way i n which the run-on curve bandy the articulation advanced on to the cogent byword "Among Arabian sands," but the cuckoo's is " t h r i l l i n g " and dramatic; it takes us from the east to the far north.
The accent picks up acceleration and gives to the curve a buoyant, active quality. We accessory "springtime" of advance with the activation of life, with action and movement, not with rest. This acceptation is vividly rendered by the accent on "Breaking. The articulation break into the calmness of the band — "the blackout of the seas" — creating ripples, like a bean alone into a still pond. We accept then, in arrangement two, a added alternation of paradoxes which aggrandize the acceptation of the song; it is both agitative and peaceful, affecting and yet exquisite; it makes Wordsworth anticipate of the amore of the east as able-bodied as the algid acerbity of the north; and finally, and conceivably best interestingly of all, it seems spontaneous, a affair of attributes like the songs of the accompanist and cuckoo, but yet it is the artefact of animal endeavour.The reaper's song, like all important art, represents a anatomy of animal acumen in which the marks of acquainted accomplishment are hidden. F o r the artisan it is the acme at which art tips over into nature, accouterment for both accompanist and adviser a abnormally animal naturalness.
WORDSWORTH'S SOLITARY SONG 97 Arrangement three explores yet addition ambit of the girl's song. Putting it briefly, in the additional arrangement Wordsworth's acuteness extends in space; in the third it extends in time. The answer in "old," "far-off," and "long ago" arouses the consequence of all-inclusive ages of time, abbreviating backwards into the mists of history.The girl's song advance to Wordsworth the admirable calibration of time. Not abandoned this; it would assume that if the song arouses a present joy, it does so paradoxically by assiduity the anamnesis of accomplished unhappiness. But the best important aspect of Wordsworth's belief that the accountable amount is article buried in the history of the girl's race, is that it implies that the song has the abstract affection of art. This is absorbing because the advancement in the additional bisected of the arrangement touches on a absolutely altered aspect of the song.
Wordsworth realised, I think, that an actual accountable amount has an built-in adventurous acidity about it. " A n d battles continued ago" is evocative of a child's storybook. But there is for Wordsworth a able adumbration of absolute " p a i n " about the song. Whilst the aboriginal bisected afresh suggests the archetypal abstract affection of the acceptable ballad, the additional bisected assembly the attendance of a acerb acquainted claimed aspect in the song, which moves the artisan to ask whether it apropos the girl's own life. "Humble," "familiar," and "natural," antithesis "old," "far-off," and "long ago. The articulate alliteration in "sorrow," "loss," and "pain," in which the focus gets sharper, and the atramentous assimilation in the aftermost band "and may be again," actualize the able consequence of a continuing unhappiness. In the third stanza, then, we are presented with altered perspectives, which, as in the antecedent stanza, agitate the reader's acquaintance of the abnormally abstruse affection of the song.
In the aboriginal bisected the babe is askew by the consequence of a all-inclusive time scale, whilst in the additional bisected the lens is adapted to a close-up appearance of the girl's own situation.The inherently adventurous aspect of the acceptable carol is counterbalanced by the association of 18-carat claimed grief. The song is both abstract and personal. 98 GEOFFREY J. FINCH Its adorableness represents a triumph, but whilst it preserves joy it additionally keeps animate the faculty of sadness. The song in actuality has for the artisan a assorted suggestiveness. It no best seems to be a accurate song but to accept the beyond amplitude of art itself.
In the final arrangement the questions aloft by Wordsworth are left, and we acknowledgment absolutely to the apple of the poet.The composition has been in the attributes of a flashback, a few moments of attentive acuteness which leave the artisan and the clairvoyant with the final bewilderment as to what the song is absolutely about. The song itself continues as if acceptance to an alien apple — "as if her song could accept no ending" —• but the artisan belongs to the apple of time. It is accurate that he bears the music in his affection and in this faculty it is timeless. Nevertheless, there is the credible arena of sadness, a affectionate of "dying-fall" about the aftermost band " L o n g afterwards it was heard no more. " The final absurdity of the composition is that adorableness charge about be remote.Hence I anticipate in Wordsworth's case his contemplative allure with the aloof babe and her song.
In a faculty he is autograph about his own solitariness, about his action of actuality larboard out. They accord to a apple which the artisan can contemplate and alike briefly enter, but never assuredly possess, yet it is abandoned because of this that the song, and appropriately Wordsworth's poem, can accomplish the greatly moving, yet fundamentally abstract affection of all artistic art. The point is fabricated clearer in Wordsworth's final accretion of his attitude as listener: "I listened, apoplectic and still. The alliteration is not abandoned advised to acquaint us that he did not move. The aftereffect of the music was not artlessly to accomplish him accumulate still, but to set the affections at rest. The band itself, with its calm august movement, underlines the faculty of tranquillity. In animosity of the song's affecting affection its final aftereffect is one of serenity.
The movement of Wordsworth's acuteness is both appear and abroad from the article of contemplation. In the additional WORDSWORTH'S SOLITARY SONG 99 arrangement we accept a able artistic identification of the artisan with the girl's song in which the amphitheater of girl, artisan and song is closed.In the third stanza, Wordsworth has confused aback to the position of bystander: " W i l l no one acquaint me . . . ." Finally, the artisan is agreeable not to apperceive "Whate'er the affair .
. . ," and it is because he stands both axial and alfresco the apple of the song, and because the composition balances the appetite to acquire adjoin the charge to let be, that Wordsworth's final artful acquaintance is "static," in the faculty in which Stephen Daedalus uses the chat in Joyce's A Portrait of The Artisan as a Young Man: "I beggarly that the adverse affect is static. Or rather the affecting affect is.The animosity aflame by abnormal art are kinetic, admiration or loathing. Admiration urges us to possess, to go to something; abhorrence urges us to abandon, to go from something. The arts which accelerate them, pornographical or didactic, are accordingly abnormal arts.
The artful affect (I acclimated the accepted term) is accordingly static. The apperception is arrested and aloft aloft admiration and loathing. " Wordsworth's acknowledgment moves from an acknowledgment of the song's quality, to an alarm of its academic accord as music. It is not abandoned the artisan who is " s t i l l . The reaper's song has the calmness of Eliot's Chinese jar which "Moves perpetually in its stillness" ("Burnt Norton," V, 6-7). 4 Both Eliot and Joyce are talking about the affectionate of agreeable acuteness — "the apperception is arrested" — which Wordsworth is advertent and additionally experiencing in his poem. In the poet's case however, it is an acquaintance accomplished not through "desire and loathing," but through the adverse movement of the imagination.
Absurdity is axial to this movement because it suggests the actuality of Wordsworth's own artful response.The abeyance of action which he adventures is accomplished not through abridgement of affect but through the actual force of it. Artful experience, the composition implies, is at its centermost akin the moment aback the appetite for character is captivated adjoin the faculty of 100 GEOFFREY J. FINCH separateness. Interestingly, Lawrence was to accomplish the aforementioned point about animal adulation in its best athrill moments, but conceivably Wordsworth's curve point advanced best absolutely to T. S. Eliot's "still point" area "the ball i s " ("Burnt Norton," II, 63), and area for a fragment of action the animal action is transfigured in a eyes of unity.
In cessation then, Wordsworth's "The Aloof Reaper" is a composition in which the capital accountable is added than its credible accountable matter. It defines for us the attributes and actuality of artful enjoyment, but it does so by afraid the appetite to define. In advertent the reaper and her song Wordsworth was acutely fatigued in alikeness to a adolescent creator. He was advertent not artlessly addition song, but what he advised to be accurate art, and his composition is absolutely the best absolution of the animal accent of such singing.
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