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A River -- A K Ramanujan

Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian :
(Poem #382) A River
In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
every summer
a river dries to a trickle
in the sand,
baring the sand ribs,
straw and women's hair
clogging the watergates
at the rusty bars
under the bridges with patches
of repair all over them
the wet stones glistening like sleepy
crocodiles, the dry ones
shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun
The poets only sang of the floods.

He was there for a day
when they had the floods.
People everywhere talked
of the inches rising,
of the precise number of cobbled steps
run over by the water, rising
on the bathing places,
and the way it carried off three village houses,
one pregnant woman
and a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda as usual.

The new poets still quoted
the old poets, but no one spoke
in verse
of the pregnant woman
drowned, with perhaps twins in her,
kicking at blank walls
even before birth.

He said:
the river has water enough
to be poetic
about only once a year
and then
it carries away
in the first half-hour
three village houses,
a couple of cows
named Gopi and Brinda
and one pregnant woman
expecting identical twins
with no moles on their bodies,
with different coloured diapers
to tell them apart.
-- A K Ramanujan
Comments:

A. K. Ramanujan, who died recently, was one of India's greatest modern
poets.  This is a really beautiful piece of cynical criticism aimed at
poets who force themselves to look only at the beautiful things in life,
and mindlessly ape the same lines quoted by poets for aeons.

On the other hand, they tend to ignore the unpleasant facets of life,
unless perhaps it is a catastrophe which has killed several hundred
people.  No one knows or cares to write about a pregnant woman and a
couple of cows.

The City of Madurai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is one of
the most ancient cities in India.  A great deal of the Sangam era poetry
(the earliest and most famous Tamil poetry, dating back to the 2nd
century BC was composed here.  Since then, it has had a long and rich
tradition of art and culture.

Suresh.

36 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

fronk nauwelaers said...

Poetry at its best feels like the solidarity caused by calamities,
therefore poetry should be disastrous for everything but the soul.

Fronk Nauwelaers
Belgian Poetry Systems
www.fronk.be

toxic_ said...

After all the best poets are those who reach out to reality rather than those who deal with dreams...

Sasi Edavarad said...

Mural Artist Sasi Edavarad from Kerala has done murals which are connected to some Lingayath poems translated by by A.K.Ramanujam.Pl visit:
http://dhyanasankalpam.blogspot.com/2010/04/sasi-edavarad-interprets-selected-poems.html

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Anonymous said...

I liked the poem

anony said...

this poem is very sensational

Anonymous said...

it is a poem describing true indian reality.

Anonymous said...

THIS POEM IS FUNTASTIC

cheap viagra said...

Just another Asiatic freak without any talent like Tagore, please avoid the silly words of this guy for your health.

Anonymous said...

Cool and interesting

charumathi said...

The poem as any other Indian poem, discusses about the dark aspects of a river, the death and the disaster it brings to lives during flood and the dirty clogging in the rusty bars under the bridges during summer. The poet is not blind to the sufferings flood causes and casualties it demands. The poet's repetition of the lines in the poem emphasizes the fact that the poets-- "new and the old" do not mind to write about the devastation the river causes but as always praises the river. The refrain emphasizes the theme of the poem. The pathos the poetic lines brings touches us truly.

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Anonymous said...

The poet is lamenting the lack of originality in the themes for poetry. Both modern and ancient poets write about those aspects of the river which are sensational. They ignore the ugly reality like straw and women's hair sticking to the watergates.

Ankita Patel said...

the poet speaks about the pathos of the plebeians in the poem.he does not eulogize the river blindly.the expression is very heart-touching.the poem is simply unforgettable.

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Anonymous said...

there is a sense of humor. and the poet feels sad about the drowning of the cows and a pregnant woman expecting an identical twins . i really like this poem Its really awesome........

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