‘The Little Girl Waved Her Hand’ by Riyas Qurana is a thirty-two line poem that does not conform to a specifically structured rhyme scheme. The text is contained within one unbroken stanza and the lines vary in length and metrical pattern. The poet has made interesting and very successful use of personification and enjambment throughout the piece.
Enjambment refers to phrases that run beyond the end of a line. They are often cut off at unnatural stopping points. This technique allows a poet to control how fast or slow, or in what pattern, a reader progresses through the verses.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that there is a group of people looking at the sky. It is like they are expecting something to happen. None of them dare move though for fear their hands will make the clouds float off.
The next section speaks of a pond which is nearby. It does not open its “doors” lightly, but is made to take in the chaotic river. The river’s motion is soothed by the stagnant waters. This is a place the speaker would have the clouds move off to.
The following lines state that the speaker wants to have the ability to live within the evening. She will travel back in time to experience it over and over again. Eventually, the clouds do move, perhaps due to the motions of the little girl who “waved her hand.”
Analysis of The Little Girl Waved Her Hand
The speaker begins this piece by describing one particular group of people and their actions. The first line is a prime example of the technique of enjambment. The line cuts off after the word “sky,” leaving a reader unsure who is doing the “Eyeing.”
The second line does not illuminate the setting any further. Nor does it give an explanation to the question of who the main character/characters, are going to be. The reader learns that “the entire place” had gathered in an area. The undefined “they” are all “sorrow-stricken.” While not giving a reader much in the way of details, these lines do lay out a tone for the first few sections.
The next three lines put the reader into a greater state of suspense. The speaker notes that the things the group is “Eyeing” are the clouds in the sky. They are on the verge of moving, but have not yet “float[ed].” It seems to the speaker that they could be easily influenced though. As is one could just “wave” a hand and they would move off naturally.
In the next set of lines the speaker turns the reader’s attention from the still as yet unknown crowed to a nearby natural feature, “The river flowing all alone.” There is a contrast between the first lines of the piece, which reference a collection of people, and the statement that the river is “all alone.” This raises the question of how a body of water can be alone and what that would mean in a natural context.
Whatever state the river is in, it is “flowing… / into the pond.” Once there, it rests in “repose.” The poet is making use of personification in these lines. She is allowing the reader to imbue the river and its surroundings with human-like characteristics. This forces a reader to empathize with an element that might seem cold and lifeless in another context. The river transforms from flowing in a rushing, chaotic frenzy to resting calmly in the motionless pond.
The speaker makes note of the fact that the…
pond doesn’t open
its doors tightly shut.
The body of water does not let anything inside which knocks at the door. It is selective. In another jump, the speaker turns to describe a little girl nearby. While she is not spoken of in any great detail, she is as close as the poem comes to having a main human character. She will reappear in a later line.
The girl is near the pond, training “birds” to carry the water with their feet. This is clearly a strange and impossible task. It is the beauty of the words, and impression of the imagined image, that the poet is hoping to imbue a reader with.
The next set of lines begins with the speaker returning to the clouds which were mentioned in the first lines. The poet is beginning to unify the elements of her text.
She states that…
The clouds should move on
Filling up the pond.
She wants the clouds to move from the place they are frozen in above the group of people, to hovering over the pond. Their forms will be reflected in the water making it seem as if the body of water is “fill[ed].”
In the next lines, the narration takes a turn and suddenly the speaker is referring to herself in the first person. She states that she is “sitting / in the evening” watching the world move around her. It is from here that she thinks about what would have happened. It is important to note that these things are only dreams, not reality.
The next lines imbue the speaker with a power which is, as some of the other verses, beautiful but impossible. She wishes to remain in this moment forever, so when the evening begins to wane, and “draw close to midnight,” she climbs down from the midnight sky to …
sit in the evening
Lines 23- 32
In the final section of the poem, the speaker continues her unlikely characterization of the world. She states that she has been able to become anything she wants to. At one point she was the river and has now “metamorphos[ed]” for the last time “into another form.” This is possible in her world, “this twilight zone.”
The following lines state that the river, which has become a constant in the poem, “doesn’t transform.” It is unwilling to change, something the “clouds” are unsatisfied with. This, along with another force, makes them “start moving.”
As if in regret, the final lines state that the…
might have waved her hand
It is a possibility that the girl, without knowledge of the world she is living in, waved her hand. This action, as was mentioned in the first lines, forced the clouds off. The speaker suspects that she inflicted a change in the world through her actions.