In "A River," how is the river in the poem described by the poet Ramanujan when it is flooded and then when it is dried up?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The description of the river at both points is vital.  In the first stanza, the river is described in a barren way in articulating its dry condition.  In this stanza, the river is described as being dried "to a trickle" and "baring the sand ribs."  Essentially, the powers that be, both poets and audience alike, have determined that the river is only worthy of being discussed and sang about when it floods.  It is this attention blight that represents part of Ramanujan's critique of the public and the artists that seek to satiate such interest without refining it.  When the river has crested and flooded, it is more vibrant and extremely intense.  It is described in the form of being torrential by increments ("People everywhere talked of the inches rising") and one with a certain created power.  Ramanujan makes it clear that "the new poets still quoted the old poets" in failing to acknowledge the fierce nature and brutality of the river.  It is here in the lack of concentrated effort in discussing the full extent of reality where there is criticism of the poets and audience that refuse to open their scope of understanding and articulation to include voices silenced, such as the pregnant woman who suffered until her last breath.  In this, the river is described in the same way, failing to be described in a manner that enables people to think but rather compels them to accept the Status Quo.


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