literary analysis of a river

About the Poet  

To understand the literary analysis of A River by A K Ramanujan, it is crucial to know about the poet first. 

A. K. Ramanujan was born in the Indian city of Mysore. He studied from universities in Deccan and Pune. Whereas, his PhD degree was attained from Indiana University. He has greater contributions in the field of cultural studies and linguistics. 

He was a folklorist, poet, philologist, and translator. 

Literary Analysis of A River by A K Ramanujan  

First Stanza

In the beginning stanza of A River, the poet is telling about the setting of the poem, which is set in the city of Madurai. According to the poet, it is the city of temples and poets. This is how most poets usually describe it and use it in their poetry. It happens in every summer season that the river bank is bare and the entire river is turned into a little stream. One can see the sand on the river bed. The things present under the water are not much promising and seems dark. Things which appears are “sand ribs”, “straw and women’s hairs”. These objects are the reason that those rusty watergated chokes up with the trash. 

The poet is pointing out the reality beneath the deadly river. The sand ribs are the lines of sands created when water dries from somewhere. These lines are formed due to air pressure as well. Straws could be those dried up leaves from the trees around the river. From the women’s hairs, there could be interpretations like these could be the hairs of women who take bath here at the river side or the women who have committed suicide in this river when it is high. 

As much as the river is old, its drinage system and bridge are also deteriorating. The drainage system is old and requires repair. The bridge that connects land from one side to another of the river is also in need if some mending. In the ending lines of the first stanza, poet has used two metaphors of crocodile and buffalo, which he has compared with stones. The wet stones looks like crocodile sleeping inside the water and dry stones seems like buffaloes lazying. There is a lot to tell about this river than just flood, which is never present in the poetry of these poets. 

Second Stanza 

In the second stanza, there are eleven lines. The ‘He’ represents the poet himself who is present at the river for a day. He unveiled some more details about the river when floos occurs in it. The villagers were talking about river rising from its edges. Since they are the residents of that village, they could tell about exact numbers of cobbled stones that are covered with the water. The water is so high that even bathing steps, where people take bath are not visible anymore.

He further hears that people were telling about three villages are no more on the landscape due to flood in this river. Not only that, one pregnant woman and two cows are also drowned in this flood. The cows even had names of Gopi and Brinda. Certainly, it is a tragic incident that people lose their loved ones, every year. Indeed, so unfortunate that villagers have to become used to of these floods. 

Third Stanza 

There is some kind of dissapointmnet in the tone of poets in third stanza when he mention new poets. These poets have just quoted the previous poets instead of writing on something that is recent plus which is more real. None of these new poets have pen down for the pregannat woman who is drowned without even giving birth to her child. All these poets did not look upon such issues neither came up with new subjects. 

It is like Ramanujan is speaking in contrast of beneficial and ruthless behaviour of river. At one hand, it play its part in irrigating new life and on the other hand, it is the cause behind ending so many lives. 

4th Stanza 

In the last stanza of the poem , A River, the poet is again complaining about poets who feel inspiring by the exquisiteness of full river that is once in a year. They are so much engrossed in the water filled river that they do not bother speaking about its disastrous consequences. 

This stanza contains same details as from the second stanza with the addition that maybe that who knows there might be twins inside her who are enjoying their time while kicking around in her womb. The children were identical twins that there wad no way to tell that they are not same and it were just their diapers which could tell difference between them. 



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