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by Valorie Bloom

The River


The River’s a wanderer, A nomad, a tramp, He doesn’t choose one place To set up his camp. The River’s a winder, Through valley and hill He twists and he turns, He just cannot be still. The River’s a hoarder, And he buries down deep Those little treasures That he wants to keep. The River’s a baby, He gurgles and hums, And sounds like he’s happily Sucking his thumbs. The River’s a singer, As he dances along, The countryside echoes The notes of his song. The River’s a monster Hungry and vexed, He’s gobbled up trees And he’ll swallow you next.

the river

Bloom uses the word 'camp' instead of home, maybe because she knows she won't be there for long and will soon be moving on to the next place. Its temporary.

She might be refering to herself as she has lived in multiple places throughout her lifetime such as Jamaica, where she was born, and Kent.

Bloom uses symbolism such as the winding, twisting flow of the river to emphasise the unpredictiability of her background. She was born and grew up in Jamaica, where she was exposed to the rich culture that envelops the communities. The noun 'tramp', usually connotated as a negative, could show that the river doesnt travel in a staight line. It twists and turns from one place to another, never settling on one. This could link to how Bloom's Jamaican culture has so many different aspects and ways to be part of it.

The River’s a wanderer,A nomad, a tramp,He doesn’t choose one placeTo set up his camp.

The 'little treasures' could resemble small snippets of information and traditions belonging to the Jamaican culture that are lesser known amongst non-jamaicans. Such as the fact that is it common for three generations to share a home or that they perform rituals named 'the nine nights'.

The author uses enjambment to signify shifts and perhaps unease in her feelings towards her culture. She sections the poem into small paragraphs, each having an unusual structure and seemingly unfinished lines. The use of the noun 'hoarder' could imply that Bloom admires the aspects of her own culture and doesn't particularly enjoy sharing them with others. This is shown when she refers to her 'little treasures' or secrets hidden in the deeper meaning of the jamaican culture, that others might find unusual.

The River’s a hoarder,And he buries down deepThose little treasuresThat he wants to keep.

Gurgling and humming are both sounds a baby would make when laughing.

Bloom uses sounds to help us understand how her life has flowed so far. However, the sounds are not the same which implys that there has been variance in her life. But overall, much like a baby sucking his thumbs, it has been positive. This suggests that she is content in what her life has brought her.

He gurgles and hums,And sounds like he’s happilySucking his thumbs.

Feeling consumed and overwhelmed by the harder parts of life.

As we read the poem, there are some stanzas that describe the river as happy, dancing and singing. While in others he's angry and vexed. This could show that Bloom has faced some difficulties in life that have made her angry and sad. Maybe so much to the point where she felt overwhelmed and consumed by them. As a Jamaican woman, she may have at some point have been part of an ethnic minority group and may have been a victim of racism.

The River’s a monsterHungry and vexed,He’s gobbled up treesAnd he’ll swallow you next.

I think the author has used the River as a metaphor for her life. It meanders, it changes directions, sometimes it flows slowly, at other times more quickly. The last stanza in the poem is conclusively negative, which may indicate that at the time of writing The River, Bloom might not have been in a good place in her life. As the tone changes throughout the poem, so do her feelings about her culture and her life in general. Since most of the stanzas are positive, I assume that she is overall content with the way her culture has taught her her way of life. She also uses rhyme as a cohesive device to bring it all together.