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Here is a poem, which I find very difficult to grasp. It’s fairly long. Given below are the first few stanzas. It’s about the river Ganges in India. I have written my comments and questions in brackets.

1 I am Ganga
Snow from the Himalayas
The keeper of water
[question-who is the keeper here? Snow or the Himalayas?]

2 I am the plains
I am the foothills
I carry the wishes of my streams
To the sea
[too flowery and metaphorical for me]

3 I am both man and woman

4 I am paper boats for children
I am habits for the fisherman
[what does habit mean here]
I am cloud for shaven monks
I reflect all movements
5 I am the bridge
I am the fort and the archer
[question-Are the words bridge and fort used metaphorically?]
Taking aim
I am the great dissolver of men
[question- what does this dissolver mean? Destroyer? What does it destroy]

6 I give life and I take it too.

Can anyone plz help me with the meaning?
Thanks
Full Member152
This reminds me of Carl Sandburg's "Chicago."
Poetry, by nature is metaphorical and can (and should) be read on several levels. The ambiguity allows different interpretations. That said:

1. It could also be Ganga as keeper I couldn't say any is incorrect.

2. The habits to me are the regular visits by the fishermen.

3. Bridge, fort, and archer, to me, are all literal and metaphorical as a way in but also barrier or protector.

4. Dissolver could be the eternal nature of the river that no matter what has come before, the river remains but men don't. It could also be the thing that has protected and kept out attackers.

All my opinion; I hope this helps a little.
Junior Member70
This has the look and feel of a translation, and we can't be sure how literal or how free the translation was. We can only interpret what we have AS IF it were the original, which means we may be missing some of the meaning.
The poem is also specific to Hindu culture, and your best bet is to run it by someone very familiar with that culture.

That said, let's begin.

1 I am Ganga
Snow from the Himalayas
The keeper of water

[I am the Ganges River;
I am the (melted) snow from the Himalayas {highest point of river}
where the water (of which I am composed) is stored.] {I am the beginning of everything.}

2 I am the plains
I am the foothills
I carry the wishes of my streams
To the sea

[I am the plains. {contrast - lowest}
I am the foothills. {everything in between highest and lowest}
I carry out the desires of my streams, {natural force of gravity}
namely, to flow to the sea.] {I am the end of everything.}

[Also, anything that falls in the river gets swept along with the current.]
{It is foolish to wish for anything, it will be swept away by Me, the force of Fate.}

3 I am both man and woman

{reference to "the middle way" - Hindu concept having to do with seeing through or resolving opposites.}

4 I am paper boats for children
I am habits for the fisherman
I am cloud for shaven monks
I reflect all movements

[I am the playthings of children. {Water provides a source of play for children.}
I am the clothes of fishermen. {Water surrounds the bodies of fishermen while they fish. Check out how fishing is done in that part of the world. I believe the fishermen get quite wet! - or I could be completely wrong.}
I am the inspiration of shaven monks.]

{I contain / provide everything anyone could need, from playthings of children to the thoughts of monks.}

{water's reflective properties - has to do with seeing}
{I see and know everything.}

5 I am the bridge.
{from life to death - I believe this is reference to the wish of many Hindus to die on the banks of the Ganges} {Alternately, the bridge from materiality to spirituality.}
I am the fort and the archer taking aim.
I am the great dissolver of men. {Check with a scholar of Hinduism on this one. I wouldn't be surprised if these three descriptions were related to three aspects of God in some way, seen through the eyes of Hindu culture. I don't remember them - Brahma, Krishna, Vishnu, something like that. You'll have to research this. These are Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, I think. Could this be fort, archer, dissolver? Or is this too far fetched?}

6 I give life and I take it too.
{The mundane interpretation: Water is a life giving substance, but one can drown in water. The metaphoric parallel: I am all the forces of nature, both physical and spiritual. I am the source of whatever happens, good or bad.}

Understanding this poem really requires study of Hinduism. I don't think we can possibly interpret it without understanding Hinduism.
Veteran Member53,443
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Hello califjim,

Sorry for the delay. Infact I had given up hope that some one will take the pain to analyze this poem. But today I found 2 answers when I clicked on 'my forum' out of curiosity.

Thank you
Great interpretation! Very logical indeed. Are you a teacher of the language or a native speaker?

There are 3 other parts of the poem. can I post them? One after the other of course.

Thanks again
I am a native speaker of English, yes.
I don't want to be a killjoy, but just the interpretation of the one part of the poem you posted was exhausting. Emotion: sad I would prefer if you used whatever you can of my ideas and continued in the same vein on the rest of the poem. I think you'll find that you can do quite well on your own, especially now that you have a start.

As for posting the rest, naturally, posting them is better than not posting them.
Maybe someone else will take up the challenge.Emotion: smile

Best wishes,
Jim
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Thanks califjim
Thank you for helping me with the 1st stanza.
Anonymous:
who is this poem by?
Hello prasanth,
3 I am both man and woman.
River Ganges/Ganga is a female. All the rivers are females. please note this point.
All the oceans are males.
smdl
Full Member376
Anonymous:
this is the poem named ' songs of the ganga' from 'nine enclosures(1976)' by ARVIND KRISHNA MEHROTRA
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