Michael is a portrait of a simple, devoted family member who cannot adapt to progress that involves dishonesty. When his nephew defaults on an obligation, he is forced to send his only son, Luke, to work in the city. He and his wife, Isabel, wait for years for Luke's return. But the son falls under bad influences, and, tragically, Michael and Isabel die without seeing him again. A stone Michael has set as a marker for a shelter he planned to build with Luke remains as a tribute to his stoic faith.
The solitary reaper
The solitary reaper is a Scottish girl singing to herself as she harvests grain. Although the listener cannot understand her song, he finds her voice thrilling and plaintive as she bends over her sickle. He remembers the mysterious encounter long afterward.
Girl in "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free"
The unnamed girl in "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free" is close to God and nature even though she lacks an adult's ability to realize this.
Girl in "We Are Seven"
In "We Are Seven," the speaker converses with a young, naïve girl who insists her family has seven siblings although two of the children are dead.
In "Michael," Isabel is the younger wife of the title character.
Lucy in "Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known" is the girl about whom the poet's speaker has a mysterious vision.
In "Michael," Luke is the only son of a rural family who goes to the city to find work and is morally corrupted by bad influences.