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I think that assessing the role of poets in “The River” might be a good starting point to paraphrase its meaning. Ramunajan’s poem calls out the poets who have a tendency to glorify or engage in nostalgia as opposed to an honest and open discussion of realities in their work. In the poem, the glory of the river is something that modern poets end up regaling. Yet, the speaker is quick to point out that little in way of the destructive elements of the river is mentioned. The rising of the water is not something that is discussed in terms of how the pregnant woman died or how other individuals suffered as a result of its flooding. I think that this might be a part of a critical paraphrasing of the poem in that poets who indulge in what is good, deifying it, lose sight of how there is an element of reality that is missing in their work. The first lines of the last stanza might go far in this as suggesting that “the river has enough water to be poetic,” but also indicating in the stanza that a more realistic conception of poetry about “the river” must present itself. In this light, the poem suggests that poetry is an endeavor where multiple points of reference have to be integrated.
In this poem, Ramanujan somewhat regrets that the old poets were only concerned with the number of losses during the floods and never bothered to go deeper into the emotions of the losses.Even the new poets imitated the style of the old poets wrote nothing but the number of losses.It is too ironical that the poets become poetic only in the season of floods for which which they eagerly await. they write nothing about the dried river either. This in one way shows their ignorance towards the sorrows of reality.Poets are supposed to be mirrors of the society and yet they don't feel the pain of the common people on loss of their houses, cows and dear ones. Instead the poets wait for losses. Coming to the pregnant woman, she may have had identical twins who were eager to be introduced to this beautiful world. The children in the woman's womb did nothing wrong. they may have expressed their regret and wish to come out by "kicking at blank walls even before birth". Thus these emotions are never brought out in the poems written by the poets of Madurai. The whole poem in a way is a complain of Ramanujan towards the ignorant attitude of the poets.
Ramanujam's poem The River seems to suggest that poetry should not merely glorify but also stay in touch with the reality and relevance of the time. A poem must reflect what is and not be dreamy. The river is beautiful and also terrifying. The everyday life of the river is indeed very dull. Clogged meshes under the bridges, dry river beds are more often a reality than the beauty of a flowing river filled with enough water for poetry.
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