Notes - The River God

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The River God
Adjective Quote to support
Powerful "But I can drown the fools who bathe too close to the
weir, contrary to rules"
Perverted "I like the people to bathe in me, especially women"
Possessive "So I brought her down here to be my beautiful dear"
Line Aspect of the relationship
Line 4 Suggests that the river god likes the
`And I like the people to bathe in me, especially women.' company of female humans
Lines 5-9 Suggests that the river god has
`But I can drown the fools power over humans and can do
Who bathe too close to the weir, contrary to rules. what he likes to them
And they take a long time drowning
As I throw them up now and then in the spirit of clowning.
Hi yih, yippity yap, merrily I flow,'
Lines 11-16 Suggests he has taken a liking to a
`Once there was a lady who was too bold particular woman and wants to stay
She bathed in me by the tall black cliff where the water runs cold, with her
So i brought her down here
To be my beautiful dear.
Oh will she stay with me will she stay
This beautiful lady, or will she go away?'
Line 23 Suggests that what the humans
Now. They say I am a foolish old smelly river think about the river is not actually
correct; it has hidden secrets
Line 26 Suggests the river god has control
If she wishes to go I will not forgive her. over the woman and thinks she
cares what he thinks of her
Poem Analysis:
Using childlike language such as 'yippity-yap' in the poem makes the river god seem playful and
innocent, so his real identity and personality are obscure.
The river god repeats that he is 'old' and 'smelly' so that it is clear what humans think of him;
when he describes himself as 'beautiful' it creates more of a contrast.
Using rhyming couplets puts emphasis on the main points of the poem, for example 'drowning'
and 'clowning'. It gives an impression of the river god's personalities - playful but dangerous.
I think the poet is saying that although we see some aspects of nature as dirty and insignificant,
and others as beautiful and harmless, there can be features of it which are not as they seem.

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The poem creates an image of a god who is powerful and possessive, with a split personality
and who takes advantage of his position. It also portrays a loving person to a certain extent.
The final line could mean that the river god will give the woman the choice of whether she wants
to go, as though she is still living. It also could mean that if she does, he will exact revenge on her
for leaving him.…read more


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