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Singapore River

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literature project

on 18 September 2013

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Transcript of Singapore River

Singapore River Poetry Analysis
What is the poem about?
The feelings/thoughts of the speaker
Theme: Social Issues (local)
What do you think is the subject matter in this poem?
The issue addressed here is Pollution. As we can see from the previous pictures, the Singapore river was once poluted but now it is clean.
How is the speaker feeling?
The speaker is feeling remorseful.
He/she once supported the cleaning up of Singapore River without realizing that the river would lose it's history and it's significance from then on.
How does the poem develop?
The poem starts off by telling how a new image of Singapore River came about, then how ignorant we are to the history and significance of the once polluted river.
What is the poet's concern about human nature/society?
He/she fears that one day, we will completely forget about the past of Singapore River and no one will remember how and why it existed, its significance and purposes.
Is there any twist in the poem?
Yes there is. Unlike the rest of the poem, the last four lines talk about how the speaker feels. He feels remorseful and saddened that we are ignorant to the Singapore River's history and significance. These 4 lines are written in a regretful tone.

Whereas, the rest of the poem talks about giving the Singapore River a "New Life", cleaning up the polluted river. In which is a factual or hopeful tone.
What are your feelings about what the poet is trying to put across?
(As a group) We feel regretful and guilty of overlooking the significance of things and taking for granted of what we have. Instead of finding out on the history of things we enjoy today, we merely enjoy them instead of questioning what, why and how did we get to enjoy these things.
Who is the audience?
What is the tone of the speaker?
Why is he feeling this way?
Use of literature techniques
Implied metaphor. It is used to compare two unlike things without mentioning one of them.

In this case the "Old Lady" is being compared with the Singapore river, although the Singapore river was not mentioned in the poem.
What images are used to express the key message in the poem?
The operation
was massive;

designed to give
new life

to the
old lady

have cleaned out

her arteries
, removed

detritus and slit

created a

for the
old blood.

Now you can hardly tell

her history.

have become


the heart

can sometimes be
Singapore river in the early 1900s
Understanding the Singapore River!
Singapore River now!
Who do you think the speaker is?
In the poem, the speaker writes "We". "We" refers to us, Singaporeans. The audience is everyone who supports the cleaning up of Singapore river.
The main tone is solemn and serious. We can also say it is regretful and objective.
convey blood
rocks, dirt
before the "detritus and slit" was removed
when the Singapore river was polluted
we have been too caught up with keeping the river clean
when we say "the heart of __something__", it means the core or significance.
you need to make effort to find it's core
implied metaphor (singapore river)
The speaker is someone who once supported the clean-up of Singapore River. However, he/she realised the consequences of it and now regrets it.
cleaning of Singapore River
Singaporeans who were involved/supports the cleaning up of Singapore river.
The speaker used the image of a human's artery. The artery carries blood and if it is clogged, the person would have to undergo an operation to remove the thing clogging it.

In the poem, detritus and silt (refering to litter) had "clogged up" (polluted) the river, and thus we gave the river "an operation" to "create a by-pass" (clean up the river).
Then in 1977, Lee Kuan Yew, put forth an ambitious goal for the government to clean up the Singapore River and Kallang Basin
hopeful tone

*Extended metaphor is used throughout the poem
history of Singapore
History of Singapore
Both positive and negative
Writer's attitude towards the river cleaning
The writer felt that river cleaning is both positive and negative. We should learn to "clean-up" the negative things but protect the positive things at the same time.
new image and new story
history of Singapore River?
the speaker's heart?
The speaker's heart is troublesome. It contains feelings which prevent him from achieving his goals.
It implied that the feelings of a person can be an obstacle towards his success.
By Lee Tzu Pheng
Academics : Has a Ph.D in English
from the National University of Singapore
(NUS) and was once a senior lecturer in NUS' English department.

Style of writing : For her, more often than not, poetry is an expression of the poet's experiences in life. Her works are meditative and lyrical in nature and she is also often seen as one of a generation of "nation-building" English writers in Singapore,
whose work in the '50s-'70s questioned the
identity of the newly independent nation.
For example, "My Country, My People",
"Bukit Timah, Singapore" and
"Singapore River".
Full transcript