The mouth of a river is the place where it flows into another river or the sea- this metaphor is crucial for understanding the poem under consideration. It focuses on the chemistry between a man and a woman, the characters of the poem. The man is obsessed with the young woman and has a whole range of feelings for her. It is only his experience and age that helps him cope with his emotions: “a man of less experience might have swooned/ while he, nearing fifty years, merely staggers” (4-5). At the beginning the major emphasis is the man’s desire, so the author creates the feeling of sensuality.
In the second stanza it is made clear that due to his life story he has a personality split because one part of him feels and lives, while the other watches and analyzes. His inner observer decides that his feeling mostly have to do with desire than with love. At the same time, the author reveals an idea that the physical and the spiritual aspects of things intermingle, and that sometimes it is impossible to differentiate individual emotions in the chaos. The man is confused completely about what he feels when he sees the woman touching a warm stone to her cheek:
“he’s not even sure what he wants to be: the stone, its warmth, her cheek, the river, ocean or the sun inside”(13-16).
The poem is largely about the desire to merge with another person like it happens in the mouth of the river. The question is open whether this merge is physical and deals with desire or it is a spiritual one. Anyway, both the author and his hero realize the sacred meaning of this move that melts the borders between people. The relationships are treated as a chance to gather separated parts into one harmonious whole because humans are united with the Universe.
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