In "A River," describe the reaction that the reader is meant to have when the poet describes the river as flooded contrasted to when it is dried up.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of my own reaction, I am of two particular minds.  The first is that Ramanujan's description of how the river is barren at one point and then swells at the other reflects the intensity that is a part of the Indian natural landscape. Right now in places in the states of Karnataka and Kerala, intense drought defines reality.  The rivers are akin to how Ramanujan describes them as they are dried "to a trickle" "baring their sand ribs."  The vivid description of the drought that is impacting so much of India right now comes through in his description of the barren river.  Such a contrast is offered when the destructive force of the river is evident, with death and suffering evident for so many.  The reaction this brings out of me is one of intense fear for the climactic extremes that India features.  These very same rivers that are empty and completely dry can, in almost an instant, swell up and overrun with a fearlessness that is disarming.  The extremes in which the climate condition in India experiences is one that dwarfs the individual, making them a mere object in its path.  Certainly, this is something that Ramanujan brings out in the work as the pregnant woman and the villagers who count the steps of the bathing places that are overrun are helpless in the face of natural disaster and climate change.  I don't think that this is the direct intent of the poet, but I cannot help but feel given the current climate situation in many parts of India, it is a reaction to what is being experienced right now.

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