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. Merwin has used hyperbole by using phrases like “swollen river” and called the river “beast” and “creature”. But one can relate to him using such extreme words, as the damage cause by the river is colossal and usually cause by a “beast. A form of irony could be the fact that there is a lot of “noise after the flood” in the form “a sea-gull creaking”. The irony is the fact that usually in a park there is a lot of noise and probably after a disaster there is silence but actually the noise has increased.

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The theme of this poem is the comprehensive detail of the destruction of a flooded river, accounted by the poet. There is a sense of nostalgia as the poet remembers coming to the park a few days ago. He remembers the place but the destruction is so great that he cannot get the image to match the park he remembers. “I felt I must surely remember, they looked so familiar” shows that. Another theme could be the poet describing Nature as beauty but also a cause of destruction. He feels betrayed by the river, for it has been calm ...

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