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.
This poem can be interpreted and analyzed in many different ways. I believe that the Solitary Reaper is an extended symbol of the loneliness and isolation that can lead to death.
The solitary reaper is singing alone in the fields with only one man listening to her melancholic tunes. He voice was so beautiful, yet no one listened or was able to hear the beauty that resulted from the singing. It was a vague mystery as to what she was singing and whether it would ever end, but it did end once the man left.
Whether the ending of the singing was a result of the man not hearing it anymore or the death of the solitary reaper is solely dependent on interpretation.