The Solitary Reaper

Jon Corelis

About this work:

William Wordsworth's The Solitary Reaper the best poem about listening to music that I know, so I decided to set this poem about music to music.  What the poem tells us, I think, is that if a piece of music, whether an untutored folk song or a great classical symphony, is successful, we never stop listening to it. It changes us, because it replaces part of the silence.

This piece was selected for performance at Denison University's TUTTI Festival 2019 by faculty of their music department, but unfortunately I don't have a recording of it.  The sound file is a software-generated audio file using choral ah voices (even though the vocal part is supposed to be solo) as a demo. 


Please note that while this composition is based on a poem in the public domain, my musical setting  of it is an original creative work under copyright. 


I’d be willing to work with performers to revise this composition to better meet their performance needs.  I can be contacted via my permissions page,  link below.

For performance or recording permission, please see my permissions page.


The Solitary Reaper

  by William Wordsworth


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
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:
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.

Version: 17 April 2019
Year composed: 2019
Duration: 00:04:50
Ensemble type: Voice, Solo or With Chamber or Jazz Ensemble
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Cello, 1 Soprano

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