SAJEEPEDIA

A RIVER BY A K RAMANUJAN

In this poem, A River by A K Ramanujan, the poet makes a comparison between old and new poets, the tendency of new poets to plagiarize the old poets and their coldness and negligence towards the naked truth behind human lives and their pains.

This poem ‘A River by A K Ramanujan’ directly criticizes both the old poets and the new as well. He criticizes that these poets never mind about the common mass and their sufferings.

A K Ramanujan (Attipate Krishnaswami Ramanujan) is an Indian poet, playwright and scholar. He wrote both in English and Kannada. His poems were simple in language and deliberate in meaning.

‘A River by A K Ramanujan’ is one of such poems. His notable poems include Looking For A Cousin On A Swing, Love Poem for a Wife, Obituary, Of Mothers, among other things, Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House, Self-Portrait, Extended Family, Still Life and so on.

A River by A K Ramanujan

A RIVER BY A K RAMANUJAN POEM

In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
every summer
a river dries to a trickle
in the sand,
baring the sand ribs,
straw and women’s hair
clogging the watergates
at the rusty bars
under the bridges with patches
of repair all over them
the wet stones glistening like sleepy
crocodiles, the dry ones
shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sang of the floods.

He was there for a day
when they had the floods.
People everywhere talked
of the inches rising,
of the precise number of cobbled steps
run over by the water, rising
on the bathing places,
and the way it carried off three village houses,
one pregnant woman
and a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda as usual.

The new poets still quoted
the old poets, but no one spoke
in verse
of the pregnant woman
drowned, with perhaps twins in her,
kicking at blank walls
even before birth.

He said:
the river has water enough
to be poetic
about only once a year
and then
it carries away
in the first half-hour
three village houses,
a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda
and one pregnant woman
expecting identical twins
with no moles on their bodies,
with different coloured diapers
to tell them apart.

Let’s get into the summary and analysis of the poem ‘A River by A K Ramanujan’

A RIVER BY A K RAMANUJAN SUMMARY

STANZA 1

‘A River by A K Ramanujan’ starts with a small description about river Vaigai which flows in Madurai, city of temples and poets in South India.

The River dries up in every summer, but during monsoon, the flowing water brings with it the straws and women hair which are clogged up on the rusty bars of the bridge built across the river and that obstruct the free flow water. The rusty bars of the bridge have patches of repair all over them.

The poet further details that the wet stones in the river glistening like sleepy crocodiles. The dry ones look like the shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun.

The new poets have written about only these two seasons. They haven’t written anything about what loss or pain the monsoon has brought to the people.

STANZA 2

The second stanza of the poem ‘A River by A K Ramanujan’ starts with the poet’s illustration of what he himself had witnessed when there was a flood in the river. People everywhere talked about the inches rising water in the river and the number of cobbled steps run over by water.

The flood carried off three village houses, one pregnant woman and a couple of cows named Gopi and Brinda.

STANZA 3

Still, the new poets simply copy the old poets, none speak about the pregnant woman carried off by the flood with probably twins in her womb. It is pathetic that the twins haven’t been born, but died.

STANZA 4

The river is beautiful only once a year i.e., the monsoon. But in just half an hour it carried away three village houses, a couple of cows and a pregnant woman expecting identical twins in her womb who imagined that the twins would have no moles on their body. She also fantasized to buy different colours of diapers for each of the twins in order to avoid dubiety.

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