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In the poem "A River," A. K. Ramanujan describes the seasonal changes in the river that flows through the ancient city of Maduai in Pakistan.
The author speaks of the ancient city in the opening stanza as a “city of temples and poets.” But, he then turns his attention to describing the river in the summer which very few other poets do: “The poets sang only of the floods.” The river is reduced to a trickle of water moving through the city which exposes the patterns in the sand and the debris left from the river. But he finds a bit of beauty as he use similes to describe the glistening stones that look like crocodiles and water-buffalos.
As he moves to the second and third stanzas, he speaks of when he was in the city while the river flooded, which is a cyclical event as floods follow the dry barren period, and the pattern repeats itself. Poets spoke of the water rising, carrying away houses, people, and most importantly the most revered animals, cows. They speak of this like it was simply the news of the day; the houses and unnamed pregnant woman are gone but the “sacred” cows that went with them have names to show their importance. “No one spoke in verse of the pregnant woman drowned, with perhaps twins in her kicking at blank walls even before birth.”
In the last stanza the author once again speaks about how “the river has water enough to be poetic about once a year.” This is a paradox since this is when the river is most destructive.
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