Rupi Kaur

i am water by Rupi Kaur

‘i am water’ by Rupi Kaur is a thoughtful poem that uses water as a metaphor. The speaker sees their soft and tough qualities. 

The poem is an interesting one that may inspire different interpretations. Readers may also be inspired to consider how else a human being might be similar to water. As with most of Kaur’s poems, this one is accompanied by an illustration. In this case, a glass of water with a wave drawn inside it. These drawings help readers interpret the poem more easily. They should add to one’s overall experience with the writing. 

i am water by Rupi Kaur


Summary 

‘i am water’ by Rupi Kaur is a beautiful short poem about the way that softness and toughness can coexist.

The speaker states that they are “water” in the first line. They are comparing themselves to water in an interesting way. Not that they exist in the same exact way that water does (aka its movements, wetness, etc.) but instead that they have some of the same strength and toughness that water does. They can provide life to those around them as well as take it away. Water is a necessary part of life, someone that all things need, in some capacity, to survive. 

You can read the full poem here.

Detailed Analysis 

Line 1 

i am water

In the first line of the poem, the speaker asserts that they are “water.” This is a powerful way to start a poem and presents an important question. Is the speaker water, or is the speaker a human being who feels similarly to interpreting water’s attributes? Either way, more detail is provided in the second stanza

Readers are likely to notice Kaur’s lack of capitalization right away. Nowhere is it more obvious than when she chooses not to capitalize the first-person pronoun “I.” 

Lines 2-5 

soft enough

to offer life 

(…)

to drown it away 

In the second stanza, the speaker lists out a few elements of what water can do. Rather than speaker about its temperate or its wetness, she describes how it is “soft” and “tough.” It offers life, its sustenance, and it is tough enough to take it away. 

While describing water, this piece also appears to be describing a specific person’s characteristics, or at least how they’d like to see themselves. They are soft and tough. 

Structure and Form 

‘i am water’ by Rupi Kaur is a two-stanza poem that is separated into one single line stanza and one four-line stanza, or quatrain. The poem is written in free verse. This means that the poem does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. This is common for Kaur’s verse. As is the fact that she chose not to use any punctuation or capitalization, including of the first-person pronoun “I.” By making these decisions, she creates a more causal-sounding and feeling tone for the piece. It is evocative of the conversation at the heart of the content. It can be seen in other poems, like ‘how is it so easy for you’ and ‘Legacy.’ 

Literary Devices 

Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Personification: occurs when the poet imbues something non-human with human characteristics. For example, the speaker in this piece is water. 
  • Imagery: can be seen when the poet uses particularly interesting descriptions. For example, “soft enough / to offer life.”
  • Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before the natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two as well as lines three and four. 


FAQs 

What is the purpose of ‘i am water?’ 

The purpose of this poem is to show that strength and softness are not mutually exclusive. It’s possible to be both at the same time, as water is. 

Who is the speaker in ‘i am water?’

The speaker in this poem is unknown. Some interpretations may suggest that the speaker is water itself, while others that the speaker is a human being who is comparing themselves to water. The latter feels more likely. 

What is the theme of ‘i am water?’

The theme in this poem is the contrast between strength and softness. The poem emphasizes how both of these things can exist simultaneously, within the same person, or within the same element. 

How is water used as a metaphor in ‘i am water?’

The poet uses water as a metaphor by suggesting that they are “water.” They have tough elements about them and soft ones.


Similar Poetry

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some other Rupi Kaur poems. For example: 

  • Legacy–  this is one of Rupi Kaur’s best-known poems. It is about the sacrifices women have made throughout time to improve the lives of women who followed.

Other related poems:

  • Waterby Ralph Waldo Emerson – personifies the force, depicting it as having its own will and the ability to make choices for itself and for civilization. 
  • won’t you celebrate with meby Lucille Clifton – addresses racism and inherent gender inequality. The speaker has overcome every hurdle and modeled herself in her own image.

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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