A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line-Rivers, with their timeless grace and imposing presence, have etched themselves into the very fabric of human existence. They stand as emblematic symbols of nature's power and resilience, coursing through landscapes with unwavering purpose. 

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line-These life-giving arteries of the earth have shaped civilizations, inspired cultures, and sustained ecosystems for millennia.

A River poem Summary

In Madurai,

Introduces Madurai as a city known for its temples and poets.

city of temples and poets,

Describes Madurai as a place known for its religious significance and literary heritage.

who sang of cities and temples,

Highlights that the poets of Madurai wrote about various aspects of city life and religious structures.

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every summer

Indicates that the described event occurs annually during the summer season.


a river dries to a trickle

Describes the drying up of a river to a very small flow of water.

in the sand,

Specifies that the riverbed becomes exposed due to the decrease in water level.

baring the sand ribs,

Metaphorically depicts the exposed riverbed resembling ribs made of sand.

straw and women's hair

Mentions materials that accumulate and block the watergates, such as straw and hair.

clogging the watergates

Describes the obstruction of the river's flow due to the accumulation of debris.

at the rusty bars


Indicates the presence of metal bars, likely part of a structure, which have become rusty over time.

under the bridges with patches

Suggests that the bridges over the river have undergone repairs, indicated by patches.

of repair all over them

Implies that the bridges show signs of maintenance or restoration.

the wet stones glistening like sleepy

Depicts the wet stones under the bridges shining as if they were drowsy.

crocodiles, the dry ones

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Compares the appearance of wet stones to sleepy crocodiles, while the dry stones resemble shaven water buffaloes.

shaven water-buffaloes lounging in the sun

Likens the dry stones to shaved water buffaloes relaxing in the sunlight.

He was there for a day

Describes the protagonist's brief presence in the town during the flood.

when they had the floods.

Indicates the occurrence of flooding during his visit.

People everywhere talked

Highlights widespread discussion among the residents.

of the inches rising,

Refers to the measurement of water levels increasing.

of the precise number of cobbled steps

Indicates the specific details discussed, such as the number of steps affected by the floodwaters.

run over by the water, rising

Describes how the water covered the cobbled steps as it rose.

on the bathing places,

Mentions areas used for bathing that were affected by the floods.


and the way it carried off three village houses,

Describes how the floodwaters swept away three houses from the nearby village.

one pregnant woman

Mentions a pregnant woman who was affected by the flood.

and a couple of cows

Indicates that even animals were impacted, specifically two cows named Gopi and Brinda.

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named Gopi and Brinda as usual.

Suggests that the cows are familiar to the community, as indicated by the phrase "as usual."

The new poets still quoted

Indicates that contemporary poets referenced the works of older poets.

the old poets, but no one spoke

Suggests a lack of discussion or acknowledgment of a specific topic by the community.

in verse

Refers to the traditional poetic form.

of the pregnant woman

Indicates the absence of poetic expression regarding the pregnant woman affected by the flood.

drowned, with perhaps twins in her,

Describes the tragic fate of the pregnant woman, potentially carrying twins, who drowned in the floodwaters.

kicking at blank walls

Imagines the unborn children's movements, possibly suggesting their struggle even before birth.

even before birth.


Emphasizes the tragedy of the situation, where the unborn children faced difficulties before they could even be born.

He said:

Begins with a direct quote from someone.

the river has water enough

Describes the river as having a sufficient amount of water.

to be poetic

Suggests that the river is only noteworthy enough to inspire poetry.

about only once a year

Indicates that the river's poetic significance occurs annually.

and then

Indicates a shift or consequence following the river's poetic moment.

it carries away

Describes the action of the river taking things with it.

in the first half-hour

Specifies the timeframe during which the river's actions occur.

three village houses,

Lists the first type of object carried away by the river during its flood.

a couple of cows

Mentions the second type of object, specifically two cows.

named Gopi and Brinda

Provides names for the cows, adding a personal touch.

and one pregnant woman


Mentions the third type of object, a pregnant woman.

expecting identical twins

Specifies the condition of the pregnant woman, expecting twins who are identical.

with no moles on their bodies,

Further describes the twins by mentioning a distinct physical characteristic they lack.

with different coloured diapers

Indicates a method to differentiate between the twins, using diapers of different colors.

to tell them apart.

Explains the purpose of the different colored diapers, which is to distinguish between the twins.

A River poem Themes

Nature's Force: It underscores nature's formidable and sometimes devastating power, particularly through the river's flooding and its aftermath of destruction.

Cycle of Life: The recurring flood symbolizes the cyclical nature of existence, where events repeat annually. This is evident in the poets' songs about the floods and the customary practices within the community.

Human Tragedy: Amid nature's grandeur, there's a poignant portrayal of human suffering and loss. The drowning of the pregnant woman, possibly carrying twins, serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of human life.

Community Resilience: Despite the challenges posed by the floods, the community demonstrates resilience by persisting with their lives and maintaining traditions, like naming the cows.

Social Disparities: Indirectly, the poem touches upon themes of social inequality and marginalization. The pregnant woman, representing a vulnerable segment of society, highlights how disasters disproportionately affect those with fewer resources or support systems.

Tradition and Memory: Through references to both old and new poets, the poem explores the connection between tradition, storytelling, and cultural heritage. It suggests a continuity in the way stories are passed down despite changing times.

Perception versus Reality: There's a contrast between the romanticized portrayal of the river in poetry and the harsh reality of its destructive floods. This raises questions about how perception may diverge from the actual experiences of those affected by natural calamities.


In conclusion, our exploration of rivers has revealed them to be not merely geographical features but vital lifelines that sustain the web of life on our planet. From their origins in mountain springs to their convergence with the sea, rivers serve as conduits of life, shaping landscapes, supporting ecosystems, and nourishing human civilizations. 

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line-Through our journey, we have witnessed the profound impact of rivers on human history, culture, and ecology, and the urgent need to protect and conserve these invaluable resources for future generations.

A River poem by A. K. Ramanujan summary Line by line-As we conclude our exploration, let us reflect on the enduring significance of rivers and the responsibilities we bear as stewards of these precious waterways. By fostering a deeper understanding of rivers and advocating for their preservation, we can ensure that they continue to flow freely, enriching our lives and sustaining biodiversity for centuries to come.


1. Why are rivers important?

Rivers are vital for supplying freshwater, supporting diverse ecosystems, facilitating transportation, generating hydroelectric power, and providing recreational opportunities. They also play crucial roles in agriculture, industry, and cultural practices.

2. How do rivers form?

Rivers typically begin as small streams or creeks, often originating from springs or melting snow in mountainous regions. As they flow downhill, they gradually accumulate water from tributaries and eventually join larger rivers or empty into the ocean.

3. What threats do rivers face?

Rivers face numerous threats, including pollution from industrial and agricultural activities, habitat destruction due to dams and urbanization, over-extraction of water for human use, and the impacts of climate change such as altered rainfall patterns and increased temperatures.

4. How can we protect rivers?

Protecting rivers requires a combination of conservation efforts, such as reducing pollution, restoring degraded habitats, implementing sustainable water management practices, and establishing protected areas. Additionally, raising awareness about the importance of rivers and advocating for policies that prioritize their conservation is essential.



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