Essay

Analysis: Poet Wordsworth’s ‘The Solitary Reaper’ and Poet Nazrul’s ‘My Lover Without a Name’

By: Dr. Mustofa Munir

ABSTRACT:
Poet Wordsworth as a narrator manipulated the image of an unknown solitary girl while she was singing and reaping crops in the valley of Scottish Highland. The other narrator Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam narrated his anguish and pain of separation from an unknown, and unseen lover. Both narrators have revealed their deep emotions as the vital source, power and volition to create those classic poems. They created an image that was emotional but descriptive and conveyed an accurate reflection with extreme reality.  A poem cannot take shape itself without the poet’s flowing feelings and creative imagination. The two romantic poets used their meaningful imagination to roam within their poems with superb literary sense and poetic talents. They utilized their elevated emotion, passion, resentments and sorrows along with the beauteous nature, reachable to all common readers, as their fundamental condition to write a poem. Poet Wordsworth’s poem ‘The solitary reaper’ and Poet Nazrul’sMy lover without a name’ (Bengali poem: O-namika) were taken as the material source of analysis. Their imagination is not just faithfully copied from the nature rather it is mingled with their own elegant poetic testimony and manifestation.

ANALYSIS:

William Wordsworth’sThe Solitary Reaper’ is a ballad. This ballad was written during a tour that began in August 1803 in the Scottish Highlands. Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge participated in that tour. The journey lasted about 6 weeks.

The ballad “The Solitary Reaper” is considered as Wordsworth’s one of the best-known works. It is about a Highland lass (girl)— who was singing a song and reaping the corn or rye in a field of northern Scotland during harvest time. 

On September 13, 1803 William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy stayed in an Inn in the village of Strathyre and took walks in the local hills. Wordsworth was inspired to write this poem while he was in the village.

In a far-off valley, in a field of Highland village a lonely girl was reaping and singing by herself

 ‘single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland Lass’.

While she was singing the narrator beseeched the passersby not to disturb her but to stop or pass gently without making any distracting sound— “Stop here, or gently pass!”

From these words ‘Stop here, or gently pass’ we can infer that the song of reaper-girl had touched the narrator’s heart so vehemently and enormously that he wanted only her singing be continued without any external disturbance. It was the melancholic sound of the song that overflowed the valley—

“O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound…”.

The narrator did not stop there, the rhythm of his feelings he unveiled more and more—

her doleful tone was more alluring to him than any nightingale’s sweet notes that could possibly rouse a reposeful feeling in the heart of some exhausted travelers while they were under a shadowy place in Arabian sand. That girl’s voice was so enchanting to him no cuckoo could ever produce such in any springtime, so thrilling it was that broke the silence of the seas in the furthest north-western islands of Scotland.

“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.”

In the next stanza he asked everyone who might tell him what was the words or theme of the song that she was singing— ‘Will no one tell me what she sings?’ 

Though she was singing in local Scots Gaelic language but it was not the non-English words that bothered the narrator, rather he precisely wanted to know ‘what she sings?—what was her state of emotion that prompted her heart to sing that melancholic song and then in the next few lines he reviewed the possible causes behind rendering such song— it could be her old, unhappy, far-off things-story that she battled long ago or it could be any simple incident that happened that day— a feeling of natural loss or pain, or that pain had returned and inflicted her again.

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?”
 

At the end, in the last stanza, he submitted himself saying whatever the theme of the song could be, the song bore a music which had no ending. And he saw her singing while she was in the field reaping the crops with a bend sickle in her hand. He was still and motionless while listening to that song. Then he climbed up to the top of the hill with the resonance of the music in his heart. When he reached the hilltop, he spent a considerable time there (Long after it was heard no more). But at one time he could not hear that music anymore (possibly she stopped singing or she was thinking something else). The narrator at the end could not hear that music anymore but in his heart, we can assume, that music and the reaper girl left an imprint of a long-lasting allusion.

“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.”

‘My Lover Without a Name’ is one of the best-known romantic poems of poet Nazrul. The Poet wrote this poem on July 27, 1926 when he was in Chittagong, a port city of Bangladesh. The poet was fascinated by the lustrous green canopy of the trees in the city and the sea at the southern part. In a quite noon of a rainy day the narrator Nazrul felt a pain of estrangement from an unknown beloved whom he loved. He felt her existence in his heart, in his dream. She secretly strolled in his heart. She is yet to be known to him with her form and shape.

I quoted only those lines from some stanzas of the poem that I wanted to analyze.

I

“I adore thee, my dream-companion, my belov’d!

The evoker of thirst thou art in my heart

For not having thee! Thee I adore.

O my fanci’d frolicsome lover,

Eternal youthful belle, my perpetual companion!

I adore thee, O my lover without a name!

Accept my adoration, my love…

My secret stroller, O the lover fore’er!

Since the day of creation cryest thou hiding behind the desire,

But to me thou didst not surrender ever!

Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless

Home! O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

II

“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

“By being the pleasing wine

 Thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”

VIII

“Still my heart weeps in pain,

Wine’s true, not the cup of wine,

Drinkest thou from whate’er

Cup, thou wilt be intoxicat’d, O my companion for-e’er!

Whome’er I love, she is thou!

Thee I love!”

IX

“Love is one, lovers are many,

That one love I drinketh pouring into many cups —

That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

© mustofa munir

(Quoted from the middle of the stanzas of the poem)

Here in stanza one, the narrator expressed an ardor and passion of love to his unknown and perpetual lover whom he adored all along his life. She is the evoker of his thirst of love.

He expressed—

 “The evoker of thirst thou art in my heart

For not having thee! Thee I adore…”

She too bears the pain of estrangement with a desire of having him since the day creation—

“My secret stroller, O the lover fore’er!

Since the day of creation cryest thou hiding behind desire,”

And she remained beyond his reach—

“But to me thou didst not surrender” 

Maybe it was the circumstance that did not allow her to meet the narrator and kept her away from him.

The narrator lamented that her unselfish lamp of love is yet to be kindled in his lightless home—

“Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless Home!”  

The narrator considered her as an infinite entity. She did not come nearer to the finite edge from her infinite entity so that he could have reached her.She exists in his dream and he loses her again in the dream—

“O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

In the following lines of the stanzas II, VIII and IX we find that wine and grapevines have become alluring metaphors for love, and they are vividly postulated by the narrator as if she is a pleasing wine to him but concealed in the grapevine—his cup is yet to be filled up with that pleasing wine—

“By being the pleasing wine

 thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”

The narrator expresses that he drinks not only her love, but also he drinks her whole true self (‘I drinketh thee’) from a pitcher, or a glass, or from a cup with many desires that he amassed in his heart—

 “Whome’er I love, she is thou! I love thee!

Love is one, lovers are many,

That one love I drink pouring into many cups –That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

CONCLUSION:

Poet William Wordsworth and Kazi Nazrul Islam have expanded their thoughts to inquire into the nature’s alluring qualities that kindled their emotions and brightened up the themes of the finest poems they created. They contemplated upon and articulated those instincts in their poems above very poetically and produced literature’s best classics in their own way.

Though the forever-unknown lover or the unknown solitary village reaper-girl is unreachable and nameless to them yet both poets had to adore their entity, their whole essence and resonance. They considered the image of the unknown reaper-girl and the unseen lover to be within the realm of their poetic pleasure and emotion.  

Poet William Wordsworth revolutionized the style of writing poetry in English literature. He was one of the first English poets who made the poetry accessible to common man with their words.  In the eighteenth century, Romanticism movement his ideas to keep the freedom of emotion and nature in poetry, reachable to common man, made him a great poetic philosopher in this world of mankind. Similarly, Poet Nazrul had revolutionized a thousand-year-old Bengali literature by using the words of common people in his poems, lyrics and other literary works along with the beauteous forms of natural world. Both poets used the external stimuli to create their poetry. 

Sources:

  1. Selected poems of Williams Wordsworth, by William Wordsworth
    Introduction by Stephen Gill, March 29 2005. Penguin Classics.   ISBN 9780140424423
  2. Sanchita, Selected poems of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Mustofa Munir, Outskirts Press, Inc. USA May 2015. https://outskirtspress.com/search?addsearch=sanchita ISBN 9781478755739
  3. Sandhya maloti, Lyrical Book, Nazrul Rochonaboli,Vol. 7, Bangla Academy, November, 2012.  
  4. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth (1800).
  1. Kazi Nazrul Islam Birth Centenary Commemorative Volume, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 2014

Publisher: Secretary, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 1/1 Acharjya JagadishChandra Bose Road, Kolkata 700020 ISBN 81-7751-031-2

Categories: Essay, Poetry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.