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The River Path

by JessicaPaul 

Posted: 18 May 2012
Word Count: 125
Summary: Hmmmm...what to say about this one? I'm kind of hoping the poem will do the talking for me. I'd be really interested to hear what people understood from it to see whether or not I conveyed what I wanted to well.
Related Works: Manic Panic • 

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Drop of water in a river.
Whose journey does it take?

It surely can’t flow back upstream.
It can’t stand still,
speed up
or slow.
Its pace is set
by nature
after all.
Confined to the river’s path,
it has no choice
but to round each bend.

Does it flow aimlessly then?
It bobs, dives, swerve’s to rise.
Can mill at the water’s edge;
take time to tickle lilies.
Float along the surface,
windswept in the breeze.

But the path it follows
was carved long before
the drop fell from the sky.
So could it ever have control,
or the right to question why?

Perhaps the drop of water’s happy
just to float along.

Perhaps it doesn’t worry whether
its path is right or wrong.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 14:48 on 13 June 2012  Report this post
It's happened again! For some reason the system doesn't put a newly posted poem up to the top of the list, so it gets missed. And it's been here since 18 May! Apologies on behalf of WW, and I'll post a comment as soon as I can.


JessicaPaul at 21:06 on 15 June 2012  Report this post
Don't worry James, I only listed it on this group a couple of days ago, even though I uploaded it back in May. Look forward to the comment

James Graham at 14:30 on 16 June 2012  Report this post
It’s about more than a drop of water in a river. The narrator in this poem is looking at the flowing river, and perhaps raindrops falling into it, and reflecting. She is quite focused on the river itself, on details such as the way a drop ‘bobs, dives, swerves’, how drops ‘mill at the water’s edge’ and ‘tickle lilies’. There’s a real river present here, not just a symbolic one.

It is symbolic as well, though. Your poem ‘Manic Panic’ is about a mental condition, bipolar disorder. You cite ‘Manic Panic’ as a related work, so I’m wondering if there’s a mental condition intended here too. Is there one which causes a person to believe that inanimate things are actually alive? The narrator hopes at the end that the drop of water is ‘happy/ just to float along’ and ‘doesn’t worry’.

But I think the meaning is simpler than that. The poem is an extended metaphor for the narrator’s awareness of her insignificance - the insignificance of all human individuals in what we call the ‘grand scheme of things’. There’s also an idea of our lives being pre-ordained, ‘carved’ like the river’s course so that individuals have no choice but to follow the path of destiny. The narrator seems to be someone who is acutely aware of having no real choices in life. Does that come close to what you meant, or is there something I’ve missed?

Rhyme is always something to notice in your work. Here I see that most of the poem, up to the last few lines, has almost no rhyme, maybe very light touches of half-rhyme, e.g. still/ all or rise/ breeze. Then you have the full rhymes sky/ why and along/ wrong. This works well for me as it suggests a growing certainty, acceptance perhaps, on the narrator’s part.

Let me know whether I’ve got it right or missed it by a mile!


JessicaPaul at 14:05 on 20 June 2012  Report this post
Hi James,
Thank you very much for your comment. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply.
You're spot on that there is a real river present, how on earth did you know that?! I wrote alot of the poem in my head when I was out on a walk round the valley I live in, following the path of the river. I linked it to manic panic because I was thinking about how mental illness is often genetically predisposed and therefore not really avoidable. I liked using the river cause like you say it emphasises the notion of following a pre-ordained or 'carved' path. And indeedm you're right when you say that I was trying to show the narrator's feeling of insignificance and lack of control - as insignificant as one tiny drop of water in a big river.
I'm glad you got the meaning of the poem. It's always great to hear your comments cause quite often you mention things that I hadn't even realised! Like the rhyme, I'd love to say that was intentional but it wasn't a conscious choice at all. I started out trying not to write in rhyme but found it working its way in anyway!
Thanks for the feedback James

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