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?
– Excerpt from the poem, The Solitary Reaper, by William Wordsworth

I remember those lines from back in school, where we studied this poem as part of our English literature class. To give a bit of context, the poem is about how Wordsworth, the poet, comes across a lone woman singing and harvesting grains in a field, alone in a picturesque valley. And while he doesn’t understand her exact words, he stops to listen nonetheless and wonders what she is singing about — whether it is about an old battle, personal loss or pain. He continues to listen to her song and in the end, quietly walks away, taking her music with him, in his heart.

Needless to say, I absolutely loved this poem (Guess I am just a hopeless romantic!). And much like Wordsworth’s walk in the mountains, I often find the occasional solitary escapes within the city equally enriching; those spaces and moments where I am close enough to see something beautiful in the city, but far enough to just be a passive observer. And sometimes, when I am walking around with a camera around my neck, sitting alone watching the ocean waves, or just having some lunch by myself with a book for company, I find others doing the same, making me wonder what their story could be.

170220 - Solitary

Mylapore people (17)
Mylapore places (10)
But my musings are often short-lived, for you know what they say: You can fence yourself in, but you can’t forever fence the world out. At least, not in a city. For now, with a full to-do list staring at me, it is time to get back to my reality. So adios until my next post!

28 thoughts on “Solitary

  1. Ranga, these are some amazing photos you took. Taking photos that have real meaning in them is always a challenge and you did it wonderfully. I’ve only lived in a city for only a small portion of my life, but I still have to agree that everyone needs moments of solitary. However, I personally don’t enjoy solitary moments too much. If I had to choose between spending time with my friends or reading a book. I would almost always choose hanging out with my friends. I’m not a person that likes to just observe, I much prefer to do activities. So in a place like a city that is filled to the brim with things to do, I prefer to keep myself busy. Still, I can definitely see your point and the peacefulness in your images prove it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too definitely can’t stand to be alone all the time. But somehow, caught in the hustle and bustle of cities, I find that taking some time off always recharges me. But definitely, each to his own, and you should simply do what makes you happy. Thanks for thoughts!


  2. Nice reflective piece of writing and a good message; we all need to have moments when we can slow down, observe and ponder. The advice I have given to my kids which is similar to what you are talking about here is to simply look up. Take some time out of just getting from A to B. Thanks for thoughtful read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always loved that poem as well.

    Love your photos. The one with the old man in the temple praharam (his pattai suggests Kapaleeshvarar, but the scultptures are more vaishnavaite – Parthasarathy?)

    I love that your photos bring to life the city I was born, live in and love.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I love the poem excerpt! His words are so powerful – and I enjoyed the way you connected it to your own life. Thank you for sharing! The poem is a great hook by the way (it caught my eyes while browsing through my “Reader” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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