The Social Life of Water

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The poem “The Social Life of Water” majorly focuses on the theme of socialism and interaction. It also shows the interdependence in the contemporary life and in the society as a whole. To begin with the first stanza, the poet emphasizes the act of unity. This becomes obvious when the author says “all water is part of the other water”. This indicates that there is similarity and togetherness in the water as it is identified as one thing. Thus, a collection of this liquid in a given ecosystem can be used to describe the same substance in a totally different environment. The practice of sharing and communication is also epitomized in this poem. This is illustrated in several stanzas in the poem.  For example, the intercommunication between different forms of water is described; clouds are seen to be talking to lakes. Thus, the lakes contribute to the formation of the clouds and clouds give the rain which then goes to the lakes. This system of communication depicts a form of unity and social interaction in the society. The expression of attachment to each other is seen in the last line of stanza two, “No water is lonely water”. This goes together with the saying “No man is an island” a quotation by John Donne, in which he explores the interconnectedness of humanity. The value of the need of social and human interactions is stressed in the poem as it is clear that humans need each other at every level in the cycle of life. That same statement also illustrates vividly how water as a liquid would not exist as a single molecule independently, in the same way people need each other for the daily existence and to achieve the purpose desired. Moreover, the poet illustrates the stress that comes about with loneliness as we see the individual standing alone on the shore of a blue Lake Kieve full of grieve and distress. This person, as a result of not being sociable, is unable to understand the what is going on in his surrounding. 

The poet employed various stylistic devices in his work. The use of imagery is extensively used in the poem. For example the use of metaphors; “All water is part of other water” and “tide wrinkles it green forehead” portray a sense of unity. Personification as a stylistic device plays a great role in this poem. For example in stanza one line two ands three; “cloud talks to lake; mist / speaks quietly to creek” the personification makes the poem dramatic and gives it a sense of humor. It also portrays the unity as all issues concerning the water are discussed in the description of the various forms of its existence. In social life, therefore, communication plays an important role; it is a vital mechanism of survival and solving daily problems. We can see the personification in the other stanzas as well. For instance, we see lake speaking to clouds, tree drinking rain water and sweating out dews, waterspout laughing at the joke of frogs. These figures of speech have been used in the poem to bring out its theme clearly and vividly. For example, “Fog sneaks up and murmurs insinuations to swamp.” On the other hand, swamp makes its needs known to marshland. These personifications mirror the playful nature and romantic interactions evident in different relationships as a result of human interaction and the great interdependence between individuals that is essential for survival and peaceful co-existence.

Repetition as a stylistic device has also been used in this poem. The statement, “All water is part of other water” emphasizes oneness as fog, dew, mist, lake, ocean, cloud, rain, and river are all just water and co-exist in the same atmosphere but in different forms. In addition, the words,  “All water understands” signifies the intensity and simplicity of communication. Humans may speak different languages but every one fathom the language of love, mercy, peace and compassion. Repetition also brings out a musical tone in the poem.

There is an evidence of symbiotic relationship between the tree, the lake, the river and the cloud as forms of water changes from one medium to another. This indicates the benefits accrued in the daily lives as people socialize with each other.

There is an immense application of the tonal variation in the poems. In the beginning, the poet starts by using a tone of mysterious excitement about the social life of water. This emphasizes unity and the inter-dependence in the social life of water. The poet tries to vividly explain how the various forms speak, relate, discuss issues and gossip about the third part. The same observations are evidenced in the contemporary world where people are excited and happy as they undertake their daily interaction on the major social issues. This begets a mood of excitement in the poem. In the last two stanzas, the mood and the tonal variation of the poem changes significantly. Indeed, there is an element of somberness as the individual really wonders about the things happening in his surrounding that he cannot understand.

Alliteration as a stylistic device has also been utilized by the author. For example, “all water is the part of the other water”, “River rushes to reunite with oceans”, Thunderstorm throws itself on estuary,” and “Tree drinks rain and sweats out dew.” This style gives the poem its rhythm. It also creates the musical flow in the poem. Consonance as a device has also been used in the poem to emphasize on the flow and illustrate the theme. Examples of consonance in the poem include: “Tree drinks rain and sweats out dew”, “All water is a part of other water” and “as something stirs and turns within you.” This also contributes to the rhythm and the musicality of the poem.  Assonance is also evidenced in the poem. For example, “But you, you stand on the shore” also gives the poem its rhythm.

There is also a great use of symbolism in the poem to accentuate the theme. In this poem, the social life of water symbolizes the social life of man. Just as a man cannot live entirely apart from the society, the same way the water cannot exist in isolation. The various forms of water, such as the river, cloud, lake, ocean, dew, fog, fiord, swamp and marshland generally correlates to the social life of human beings which varies depending on the different cadres of life. There are farmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, patients, employers, employees, masters and servants. These generally depend on each other as their activity requires interdependence. One sub-group cannot exist without the other. Thus humans are social beings that have to interact on various levels.

As discussed above, in the poem “The Social Life of Water” the author Tony Hoagland  encourages interaction between various individuals. He also spells out the benefits of interaction and depicts the state of solitude indicating the predicaments it causes. Interdependence and cooperation are the important constituents of human life.

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