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Commentary on After The Flood- M.S. Merwin

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Commentary on "After The Flood"- M.S. Merwin The title "After The Flood" is quite straightforward. The poet is clear in exhibiting to readers that this poem deals with the aftermath of a flood. "After" evidently points towards the past and "Flood" depicts a natural disaster cause by the overflowing of a river. The poem is organized into 31 lines with no distinct paragraphs. There is a use of commas and full stops. I find the usage of commas and full stops in between lines a very important as this has allowed the poet to switch between the past and the into a memory further into the past and also focus on important observations. The language in this poem is universal, the poet has composed this poem for a general audience to understand. The poet clearly paints a visual image in the reader's mind of the destruction caused by the river. The poem is not fiction and the only voice detected in the poem is that of the poet. There is no usage of rhyming words at the end of lines. ...read more.


A very interesting observation can be made is that Merwin remains calm while describing the setting, while others would probably get distraught. It kind of gives the feeling that the poet had anticipated that the river would do this but yet again he cannot match the current image with that of which he remembers. He is surprised that just two days ago this was a place of tranquility and serenity and now it looks like a battlefield. A well-placed phrase for the poet's feelings right now could be "the calm before the storm" because the author remembers this place to be exotic but now it's destroyed. The poet has elegantly interchanged between a more recent past and a deeper past, known as the past perfect. The first two sections sees the poet entering the scene, and describing the aftermath. He then describes his earlier memory of this place and finally goes back into the recent past. The poet has a "flash back" while describing the scene. The tone of this poem is serious, concerned and little bit of sadness. ...read more.


But according to me this gives readers the feeling that life is always unknown, how such a calm thing can became unstable in a matter of days/hours. In my opinion the author is trying to prepare readers to face dangers with a strong will. A very interesting line is "What sort of drunken creature had passed there". This line interested me because if the meaning is literal than it clears the "old coat" mystery, as only an intoxicated person would venture into such a dangerous place and thus been swept away by the river and his coat being snagged on a branch. But I feel that the poet could mean something else; he could be referring to the river as a "drunken creature" itself. The path of a river is always fixed but when it floods it can flow in any direction. This is similar to a drunk person who cannot walk in a straight direction and sways just like the flooded river flows in any direction. Additionally the usage of the past perfect by the poet to describe to us the situation in a recent past, then venture into a memory and come back again into past is used to give the poem depth. Kaniel Kalarikkal Grade 11 B.D. Somani International ...read more.

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