The author of the poem is Valerie Bloom who is a poet and a novelist. She was born inJamaicain 1956 and later moved toEnglandin 1979. She writes poetry in English and Jamaican patois for all ages and has performed her work throughout the world, with many television and radio appearances. She believes that “part of the beauty of poetry is the music in the words, and a vital part of music is often the poetry in the lyrics”.

          The River

The River’s a wanderer,

A nomad, a tramp,

He doesn’t choose one place

To set up his camp.

The River’s a winder,

Through valley and hill

He twists and he turns,

He just cannot be still.

The River’s a hoarder,

And he buries down deep

Those little treasures

That he wants to keep.

The River’s a baby,

He gurgles and hums,

And sounds like he’s happily

Sucking his thumbs.

The River’s a singer,

As he dances along,

The countryside echoes

The notes of his song.

The River’s a monster

Hungry and vexed,

He’s gobbled up trees

And he’ll swallow you next.

                                                                                                – Valerie Bloom

SYNOPSIS

The River is about the many characterestics of a river. The river is a wanderer where he moves from one place to another.  He does not stay still and is always moving. He is also a winder where he twists and turns or meanders. He is also a hoarder or a collector where he keeps things deep down in his river bed. Sometimes, he behaves like a baby when he is happily flowing along. At times, he is a singer as seen through the happy sounds of the water. Finally, he is also a monster and can devour trees.

Each stanza describes the river in a particular way. Therefore, we are able to name the stanzas accordingly:

Stanza One- The river is a wanderer

The river is always moving or in motion. It is said to be a wanderer, a nomad and a tramp. This comparison shows that the river does not camp or position itself in one place.

Stanza Two- The river is a winding entity

The river’s journey is a winding journey as it flows through valleys and hills. It is said to be winding because it avoids hard objects that stand in its way.  It keeps going although the route it has to take is winding.

Stanza Three- The river is a hoarder/collector

Along its journey, the river collects and stores many things. It collects everything that stands in its way and is easily picked up from the surface. These things are sometimes buried in the river bed over a long time.

Stanza Four- The river is a baby

The sounds that the river makes are compared to the sounds that a baby makes. The river gurgles and hums. The sound is just like how a baby sucks his thumbs happily. It makes happy, merry sounds as it flows.

Stanza Five- The river is a singer

Sometimes the river is like an entertainer. The happy feeling is felt as it flows while singing and dancing. The echoes of its songs can be heard as they pass through the village.

Stanza Six The river as a monster

The river is not happy all the time. Sometimes it can be hungry and angry just like a monster. It can even swallow trees and would not hesitate to take away your life.

THEMES

     

Man and Life

Life is a quest where we search for stability, contentment and happiness. It also portrays the challenges we face in life. We all have various challenges in our lives. There is also anger and destruction.         

 

MORAL VALUES

We must have goals in life. Then we will know how to plan our journey to achieve our goals. We must also value and appreciate life’s experiences. Our experiences teach us many things in life. Thus, we must remember and appreciate people that we meet in life. We usually learn from each other.

It is good to share happiness with others. It will make us happier. Sometimes we encounter problems. We must face problems in life positively. Then it will be easier to solve them and sometimes we learn a lot from it. However, we should not destroy other people in the process to achieve our goals.

           We must protect the environment. We must learn how delicate the planet is and how we have a responsibility to take care of the planet so the air we breathe, the water we drink and the animals are all protected.

STRUCTURE, STYLE AND LANGUAGE

 

The poem consists of six stanzas. Each stanza is made up of 4 lines (a quatrain). The rhyme scheme is “a, b, c, b”. The second line ends with the same sounding word of the fourth line. In stanza 1, the word ‘tramp’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘camp’ (line 4). In stanza 2, the word ‘hill’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘still’ (line 4). In stanza 3, the word ‘deep’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘keep’ (line 4). In stanza 4, the word ‘hums’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘thumbs’ (line 4).  In stanza 5, the word ‘along’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘song’ (line 4). In stanza 6, the word ‘vexed’ (line 2) rhymes with ‘next’ (line 4). The language is simple and easy to understand. It is written as a description of the movement of a river. The words used helps to create clear images for everyone. The comparison of images helps for a better understanding. The poet has used a form to depict the subject. The poem is in a visual presentation of a river flowing.

Symbol

A symbol, in the simplest sense is anything that stands for or represents something else beyond it—usually an idea conventionally associated with it. For example, sunrise may represent new beginnings or the beginning of a new day. Other typical examples include the scales to symbolize justice and a dove for peace. Things get a little harder, though, when a poet creates a new symbol. In this poem, the river itself represents life.

Personification

An object is given a human quality. The river is personified as a man as he travels through life. The river is a ‘wanderer who behaves like a ‘nomad’, a ‘tramp’, a ‘singer’ who also dances or a ‘monster’ who gobbles up other things.

 

 

Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something important in common. The comparisons given to the river provides a picture in our minds. The river is a ‘wanderer’, a ‘nomad’, a ‘tramp’, a ‘singer’ and finally a ‘monster’.

Repetition

A word is repeated for emphasis. The main subject is the river. The word ‘river’ is repeated throughout the poem.

Onomatopoeia

Words that imitate the sounds described. The river babbles and murmurs as it flows

-‘gurgles and hums’

Capital Letter

This is used to give a word emphasis. River is emphasised in this poem and can be identified as possessing human qualities thus capitalized as a proper noun (names of people are capitalised)

Discussion

The poem personified the river as something that is living. It describes the attitudes of the river and the things that the river wants. The poem is also described as something that has both the good and the evil qualities. Therefore, it shows that the river is just like a human that can be good sometimes and at the same time can have evil qualities due to certain reasons. The poem also shows the river which is personified to be able to be as what it chooses to be. The river decides according to circumstances whether it wants to be a baby or a monster.

Man is like a river. In the journey of his life, he becomes a traveler searching for the best. He decides his future as he goes to wherever and finds whatever he wants. He gains a lot of knowledge and experience along the way. Everyone around him feels his happiness. Sometimes, however, if man does not get or achieve what he wants he would show the evil side of him. He will fear no one and will tend to hurt others. Therefore, after some time, he has to settle down.