Grass On The Riverbank Never Dies: An Interpretation Of 'Wild Grass On The Riverbank'

Grass On The Riverbank Never Dies: An Interpretation Of 'Wild Grass On The Riverbank'

People have the ability to learn from their experiences and further grow themselves as unique individuals just as plants can overcome obstacles of their own.

"Wild Grass on the Riverbank" by Hiromi Ito is a poem that highlights the experiences of a young girl who travels to a new place called the Wastelands to visit her father. Her differences from the natives in the area are apparent, and she is marginalized for not being like everyone else. In spite of the problems she faces, she keeps going, pursuing the course. She concludes that people like herself can bloom into someone new and begin a fresh start despite past hardships. Ito successfully uses repetition, comparisons to nature, personification and a burdened, yet enlightened tone to effectively prove how obstacles can be overcome in light of troublesome circumstances. Here is my interpretation of the poem.

Firstly, by implementing the repetition of phrases and sentences throughout the poem, Ito gives the poem's lines more effect. The repetition helps to emphasize the connection that Ito creates between man and nature. By frequently claiming, “The ground was covered, blooms spread across the earth” (line 92) three times, Ito makes the reader reread that particular line and better engrave the image into his or her mind. The blooms spreading over the face of the earth and expanding their reach are a sign of new life that was not always abundant there. This can be attributed to the speaker and the situation that she and the other immigrants are in. For the many people travelling to the Wastelands, they have the opportunity to start anew. The very lines written in the poem are repetitive, continuous and abundant because they are a reflection of the blooms covering the earth, meaning the syntax used also furthers the meaning of the stanza. Ito also used repetition as a means of accentuating hope within dark times, demonstrated by the way the author repeated phrases and lines that were primarily optimistic in tone, in contrast to some of the other unhappier lines.

By the end of the poem, the speaker comes to the realization that life will carry on no matter the difficulties she and people like her may face, as “living is more commonplace than dying for plants” (Ito 94) because they have the capacity to grow through rain or sunshine; good times and bad times. The endurance of the speaker in trying times is established through the adaptability of the plants that represent man. The metaphorical relationship between plants and people continues to be reinforced as the poem goes on. The speaker compares herself and others to plant life with the intent of having nature represent strength and rebirth, thus attributing that same characteristic to man. Because Ito is consistently making this contrast in various stanzas, it becomes clear that there is an underlying theme of enlightenment due to the way the author stresses how, like the plants, humans are able to undergo change or persecution and still overcome the issues that they once had to deal with.

This idea is further established and proven by the speaker’s use of positive diction in the final stanza. In addition, the speaker manages to persevere through the “...piles of dried up corpses...” (line 90) found in new places as she immigrates to the wastelands where people like her are expected to give up their culture. She is also pressured to conform to the norms of the new place she travels to. This can be seen when she first reaches the Wastelands and is expected to be silent and leave behind her old language which is a major part of who she is. This emphasizes that she is different and unwelcomed because there, such differences are not to be embraced. Instead, people such as herself are told to “...shut their mouth...” (Ito 90) and return to where it is they came from. This adds to the list of burdens the speaker experiences, which influence her ultimate understanding of the idea that she can continue to surpass such obstacles and prosper just as nature continues to bloom and grow continuously. These events help her to reach this conclusion, rather than tearing her down. By maintaining this theme, the poem takes on a more positive deeper meaning, despite the unfortunate instances on the surface that the speaker faces.

Because of the continuous comparisons being drawn between greenery and people, plants are personified within the poem. They are given the ability to speak and think in order to portray the words and action of the other immigrants that the speaker is amongst. She is able to “...[hear] the different types of grass on the riverbank whisper...” (line 89) as they speak of the trials and misfortunes they have gone through after the fires. The grass is personified as the earth itself speaking up about the situation which works to show how different aspects of nature can be closely attributed to humans and the society they live in as well. The grass discuss with each other like people would in order to convey their resemblance.

The speaker finds hope in the fact that after such difficulties she is still “wearing the open flowers and withered flowers upon [her] body” and “continued to grow stems” (Ito 96). Her withering flowers are meant to depict past hardships or scars, resulting in a battered soul. But in spite of such, she still proceeds to grow stronger each day. This is the burden she overcame and what helps to demonstrate the optimism weaved throughout the lines of the poem. By including diction such as “flowers” and “grow,” the poem takes on a sanguine tone that has the purpose of creating a more high-spirited situation in contrast to the bad experiences of the speaker. One of Ito’s main purposes with the poem is to convey the ways in which struggles are something that do not last forever because like the grass on a riverbank after a fire, people can start over, turn a new leaf and grow with a fresh start and a new beginning.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Popular Right Now

35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."

Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."

3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."

4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.

"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.

“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.

Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."

25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.

"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.

"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."

30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.

"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"

32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."

34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."

35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Your Last Week Of The Semester As Told By 20 'Supernatural' GIFs

*ugly crying*


The last week of the semester is upon us. I wish you all the best of luck as you endure the challenges to come. In the meantime, here are some "Supernatural" gifs that describe how you're probably feeling. Hopefully you'll get a chuckle out of them, too.

1. When the week actually begins.

2. When you see a fellow student you don't know well having a emotional meltdown. 


3. When a classmate shares their notes with you because you didn't bother writing any for the whole semester. 


4. When you couldn't concentrate on studying because everyone else in your hall was being too obnoxious. 


5. Of course, the lack of sleep during the week.

6. When the smart students keep saying how "easy" the final will be.

7. When you and your peers study hardcore. 


Discover & share this Supernatural GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

8. This one needs no explanation.

9. When you have five exams, three essays, and a presentation in one week. 


10. When there are questions on the exam that don't even relate to what you studied.

11. When your professor mentions something about an essay after the multiple choice section. 


12. When someone asks if you're okay and your stress bubbles to the surface.

13. When your professor is awesome and gives you and your classmates cookies or candy.

14. When you just want to drop everything and it's only Tuesday.

15. When the stress is so great, you have to eat away the pain.

16. And when people tell you to stop eating.

17. Cheering on your friends before they take their finals. 


18. When you know you totally bombed that final. 


19. And the face you make when you discover you actually did well on said final. 


20. And lastly, that drive home after getting through over three months of mental torture.

Related Content

Facebook Comments