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a river

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The poem “A River” is written by A.K. Ramanujan. In this poem, the poet has compared and contrasted the attitudes of the old poets and those of the new poets to human suffering. He has come to the conclusion that both the groups of the poets are indifferent to human sorrow and suffering. Their poetry dose not reflects the miseries of the human beings. He has proved this point in the present poem. The river Vaikai on whose bank the historic city of Madurai stands has been mentioned in the poems o
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  The poem “A River” is written by A.K. Ramanujan. In this poem, the poet has comparedand contrasted the attitudes of the old poets and those of the new poets to humansuffering. He has come to the conclusion that both the groups of the poets are indifferentto human sorrow and suffering. Their poetry dose not reflects the miseries of the human beings. He has proved this point in the present poem.The river Vaikai on whose bank the historic city of Madurai stands has been mentionedin the poems of many poets, both past and present. The river is intimately associated withthe life and culture of the Tamil people. The peculiar thing, which appeals to the poets, isthat the river presents two different spectacles in two different season. It is completelydry in summer and flooded in full in the rainy season.In this poem, the poet refers to the river Vaikai which flows through the city of Madurai.The word Madurai means a “sweet city”. It is a Tamil word. As a matter of fact, this cityis the center of Tamil culture and learning. It is also a holy city full of temples includingthe famous Minakshee temple. The poets have written many poems on the temples andthe river. In the present poem, A.K. Ramanujan deals with the river.In the poem “A River”, we get two pictures based upon two different kinds of description. In the summer, the river is almost empty. Only a very thin stream of water flows. So the sand ribs on the bed of the river are visible. The stones that lie on the bed of the river also exposed to view. The portion of the river under the bridge has also beendescribed. We get a vivid picture of the river in the summer season.There is also the picture of the river in the rainy season. Generally, all kinds of poets havewritten about it in their poems.During the rainy season when the floods crone the people observe it very anxiously. Theyremember the rising of the river inch by inch from time to time. They remember how thestone steps of the bathing place are submerged one by one.They see how three village houses were damaged and carried off by the floods. They nowhow two cows named Brinda and Gopi were carried away. They also know how a pregnant woman was also drowned in the river during the flood. Both the old and new poets have mentioned these things in their poems. But the way they have described thesethings in their poems shows that they were not much alive to or sympathetic with humansuffering.They did not mention the name of the woman who was carrying twins. Before their birth,she was drowned in the flooded river. At the time of drowning, most probably the twinsmust have kicked the sides of her womb. She must have got much pain out of this. But both the new poets and old poets did not refer to all these miseries of the woman in their  poetic creations.  This becomes ultimately clear that they are not sympathetic with suffering human beings.They are totally callous and indifferent. This kind of attitude makes their poetry weak andunappealing, dry and cheerless.The tone of the poem is based on sarcasm and irony. The structure of the poem has beenin paragraphs and single lines. There are four longer verse paragraphs and a shorter onein the beginning. There are only two single isolated lines. This kind of structuralarrangement contributes to the effect of irony. It also helps to grasp the main pointsclearly. Secondly, a word can be said about the language used in the poem. It is verysimple on account of which the thought sequence of the poem is presented unmistakablyand clearlyThe poem, ‘A River’ by A.K. Ramanujan is about the river Vaigai which flows throughMadurai, a city that has enjoyed the pride of place as the seats of Tamil culture. It is a poem that comments on human sensitivity. For selfish reasons, we love events which wegain without seeing the harm they cause to others. The poet talks about the materialisticaspect of the world.The poet has used free verse. He does not follow any rhyme scheme. He uses longsentences without interruption. Also the poet uses one sentence in one stanza most of thetime. The use of free verse and ironic structure to bring home the callousness of both thenew and the old poets toward the human suffering caused by floods in monsoon. He alsodepicts the people’s habit of ignoring the commonplace and the ordinary.The poet has drawn powerful images in the poem. The concrete imagery makes the poemrealistic and interesting. He has described the dying river with accuracy and imagination.The visual description is at once arresting.a river dries to a tricklein the sand, baring the sand-ribs,straw and women’s hair clogging the Watergatesat the rusty bars.The ribs of sand, the straw, the hair of women are all powerful symbols which bringimages vividly before our eyes.There are two highly interesting similes used in the first stanza of the poem. The wetstones lying in the river have been compared to ‘sleepy crocodiles’ in order to show that  they are slippery and may prove to be dangerous. The dry stones are compared to water  buffaloes lazing in the sun.The tone of the poem is causal, detached and humorous. In spite of the serious eventsdealt with in the poem, one cannot help but be amused on noticing the water gates of theriver being choked with women’s hair and cows being named Gopi and Brinda.The poet in the poem condemns ironically the inhuman approach of the Madurai poets tothe immense loss and suffering caused by the floods. The absence of human concern inold and new poetry is really a matter of concern. Ramanujan, in this poem hashighlighted the bitter truth of the callous attitude of the old and new poets in all itsshocking harshness.

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