A River - Poem

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Poem: A River (Poetry 4)
Poet: A K Ramanujan

The poem “A River” is written by A.K. Ramanujan. In this poem, the poet talks about river Vaikai (or Vaigai), on the banks of which the famous city of South India- Madurai stands. The word Madurai in Tamil means the “sweet city”. As a matter of fact, this city is the center of Tamil culture and learning. It is also a holy city full of temples including the famous Minakshee temple. The cultured poets have written many poems on the temples and the river Vaikai, which flows through the heart of the city. Thus, Madurai has been rightly considered as the "city of temples and poets". The river is intimately associated with the life and culture of the Tamil people, and has thus been the subject matter of the poets, both old and new. The peculiar thing, which appeals to the poets, is that the river presents two different spectacles in two different seasons. Every summer, the river dries down "to a trickle", thus exposing the "sand ribs" of the river bed. The poet thus presents a beautiful imagery of a lean and thin person, whose bare ribs are visible, while describing the scarcity of river water in summer. Madurai is a famous city in south India. It is well known for temples and poets everywhere. The poets have composed songs and poems in praise of the city. He says that the river had enough water to attract the poets only once in a year when it flooded during the monsoons. In the summers the river Vaikai "dries to a trickle". We also get another vivid picture of the river in the summer, when the "rusty bars under the bridges" are exposed, “with patches of repair all over them". The poet talks about the "straw and women's hair" which clogs the water gates, thus revealing the utter lack of basic civic sense and callousness towards the environment. We can see that this is one of the basic causes of flood during the monsoons, resulting from the clogged water gates. The poet presents a symbolic imagery of the stones in the...
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