Desert Rivers Analysis: by Lade Wosornu

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Desert Rivers


Hello and welcome! Today we are going to have a poem analysis of “Desert Rivers” by the poet Lade Wosornu.

Issues in the poem

This poem points out that there are a lot of life activities which go unnoticed as we go through the ups and downs of our daily lives.

This poem seeks to encourage the reader to find hope and courage even in the most hopeless situation.

We will go into some details in the poem but first let’s go through this amazing poem.

Desert Rivers

by Lade Wosornu

Line by Line explanation of the poem

Line 1 and line 2 analysis

Deserts are usually described to be wasteful places. The use of the word “too” describes the narrator’s effort to bring to light that deserts are also important and that, they also have rivers.

The word “entombed” makes the reader aware of the distance between the deserts and its rivers.

The poet’s use of “entombed” and “birth” in the same line is interesting since one can only be entombed if they pass away. But how can one be entombed from birth? Unless they are alive while still buried.

Line 3 and 4 analysis

The 3rd line states that “buried rivers” are even more impressive than the ones we easily see around.

Relating this to our daily lives, perhaps the number of things which go unnoticed are greater than the things we see with our naked eyes. Whether good or evil, our society has its own secrets.

“Lie hid from the glare of sun” may also suggest that sometimes the value, potentials and abilities of an individual may not always be visible for the public eye.

Line 5 to 7 analysis

One of the factors that causes water to dry up is wind. However, the desert rivers have an advantage of not being exposed to the winds. They are therefore protected from losing their importance.

They are also said to be “roofed not by sky.” This suggests that not even the sky’s eyes can see them. This affirms its hidden nature.

They are also said to be enclosed by rocks that do not always hold. This describes the phenomena of waters trapped in rocks, where these waters are able to escape once in a while.

Line 8 and 9 analysis

The lines above reaffirms the existence of the unseen rivers. Relating this to life, unwitnessed events, even though they may go unnoticed, can have a significant effect on us.

The use of the expression, “without a sound”, indicates how private the desert rivers are.

Line 10 and 11 analysis

They gush here means, they pour out. The bowels of seas represent the bossom of seas. Also, the use of the word “gush” may also suggest the river’s abundance.

Again, the human eye is incapable of seeing, perhaps, this serves as a protective mechanism to protect it from the dreaded winds that dry.

These two lines affirms that the desert rivers mentioned in the poem are real. There is an African-Akan adage which states that, “if the eye cannot see then it can’t be considered ugly.”

The poet therefore suggests that even though the desert rivers are not given much attention due to their hidden nature, their impact, influence and significance cannot be overlooked.

End of line by line analysis.

Some themes in the poem

1.There are values in people we sometimes count as valueless.

This means irrespective of one’s educational background, position or current situation, they cannot be counted as useless.

2. People have hidden talents. The fact that these talents are not seen does not mean they do not exist.

Line 12 and 13 clearly explain a this fact. The line reads, ” if you do not see our tears, it does not mean we do not cry.”

3. Poverty can hide/limit one’s potentials and abilities.

Eg line 1 and 2 quotes, ” Deserts too have their rivers Entombed from birth in earth.

“Entombed” here means covered/buried Therefore a person’s abilities can be covered right from birth and may even continue throughout the entire life of that individual.

4. Lack of support and motivation may kill/ hide one’s talents.

Sometimes we all need motivation, support and cheers from our families and loved one’s to help us reach our goals.

The “rocks” in line 7 of the poem relates to the people mentioned.

5. People may be hurting in the large society that we live in, but they may be suffering silently.

Literary devices in the poem


1.”Desert Rivers” :These are two contradicting words that are closely held together.


1.Desert : Desert represents represents individuals assumed to have nothing good in them.

2. Rivers : Rivers symbolises one’s talents and potentials.

3. Rocks : Rocks represent people around us like our families, friends and the society.

4. Sun : The Sun symbolises witnesses, viewers or the society.

5. Sky : It symbolises nature


1.”Entombed from birth in earth” : Birth and earth have the same internal rhyme.

2. ”Dry and Sky” : Lines 5 and 6 have two last words as dry and sky which have the same tail end sounds as /ai/


1. “Bowels of seas” (Line 10). The sea has no bowels or belly. Bowels have been used metaphorically as the middle of the sea.


1. Far , far away from unaided human eyes: ”Far” has been repeated twice on the same line


1. Far, far away from unaided human eyes: the two repeated words far and far have the same /f/ consonant sound in the beginning.


1. Waters mightier than Voltas (line 3) : There is a direct comparison between waters and rivers with the connecting word “than”

Form and Structure

Desert rivers is a one stanza poem with 13 lines which does not rhyme. We can therefore conclude it’s a “free verse.”

Some Questions and Answers on the Poem

1. What does the reference to the “Voltas” convey?

Ans: It Convey’s the setting of the poem

Note: Volta is a large river in Ghana

2. Complete this line : “if you do not see our tears”…………

Ans: it does not mean we do not cry

3. Identify any three literary devices used in the poem.

Ans: Metaphor, Simile, Repetition

4. What happens far, far away from unaided human eyes?

Ans: The gushing of rivers into bowels of seas.

5. What literary device is found in “waters mightier than Voltas”?

Ans: Simile

6. How many lines are in the poem?

Ans: 13 lines

7. What can you say about, “these run their unwitnessed course to their unwitnessed end”

Ans: People exhibit unseen talents

8. How does the poet describe the underground water?

Ans: They move with urgency without a sound.

9. Find two places you can find rhymes

Ans: Line 2 and 3 (Dry and sky)

Ans: Line 2 ( birth and earth)

10. Name one issue raised by the poem.

Ans: Sometimes people tend to focus on the outward appearances instead of inner qualities of people.


George is interested in self-education, knowledge building and self expression through writing!

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Michael

    Please how does the poet describe desert Rivers

    1. George

      The poet describes desert rivers as hidden and far far away from the view of man

  2. Michael

    How does the poet describe desert Rivers

    1. George

      @Michael, the poet describes the desert rivers as mighty, hidden and unseen.

  3. Rosemary Owusuaa Boateng

    Another theme for “desert rivers”

    1. George

      @Rosemary, Most times, the best things in life are not easily found for they require hard work, focus and determination.

    1. George

      This is a tricky question. Ans: The rocks serve as protection to keep it safe and hidden.

  4. Selorm

    Yh lade wosornu is a poet

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      I’m planning to add a push notification button so that anytime the site is updated with a new post you will be updated. Thank you!

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