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Nissim ezekiel night of the scorpion essay

The Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

The Night of the Scorpion is a eight stanza poem, each stanza of which contains between three and eighteen lines. This choice adds to the seriousness of the poem subject matter and deadly nature of the story Ezekiel tells. Summary of The Night of the Scorpion The Night of the Scorpion is the story of one night in which the mother of the speaker is stung by a poisonous scorpion.

  1. They are all devoted to the same purpose, praying in the hope of saving the mother.
  2. She suffers a lot because of the pain but still she is happy that the scorpion did not bite her children. The peasants came like swarms of flies and buzzed the name of God a hundred times to paralyse the Evil One.
  3. With every movement that the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother's blood, they said. The reader is then informed that all of this has been going on twenty hours.
  4. Summary of The Night of the Scorpion The Night of the Scorpion is the story of one night in which the mother of the speaker is stung by a poisonous scorpion. Just as the poison is moving through her body, so is the flame consuming her skin.
  5. After twenty hours the poison was brought down, and all that the mother said was'thank god the scorpion stung me not my children' suggesting the sacrifice that a mother would do for the sake of her children.

She suffers for twenty hours while peasants, holy men, and her husband attempt to heal her. They try curses, blessings, prayers, herbs, and all forms of ancient medicine that are not practiced in most of the modern world. Their efforts are in vain. A sense of otherworldliness is created by the beliefs and practices of these peasants in comparison to the world in which the reader is existing, a barrier is put up. This barrier is torn down as the poem concludes and the reader realizes how similar they are to the characters in the poem, united by their common humanity.

Find the full text of the poem here.

Analysis of Poem Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

Night of the Scorpion Analysis This poem begins at the beginning, with the speaker starting the story of how his mother was stung by a scorpion. Ezekiel does not use unnecessary phrasing or extra words, he gets right to the point.

  1. With every movement that the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother's blood, they said.
  2. He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a match to it.
  3. Some of these practices will surely seem absurd to a modern reader. He was married, and published his first collection of poetry in in 1952, The Bad Day.

A quick succession of stanzas allows for the poem to flow faster. The second stanza proceeds in the same way, but this time with only three lines. Throughout this piece Ezekiel makes a number of language choices that continue to reference the movements and parts of different insects. These descriptors are very prevalent in the third stanza. They are all devoted to the same purpose, praying in the hope of saving the mother.

Night of the Scorpion

They believe that she has been inflicted by the Evil One, or the devil, and pray in an effort to drive him out. The peasants came like swarms of flies and buzzed the name of God a hundred times The fourth stanza contains seven lines and describes the hunt that the peasants embark on in an effort to find the scorpion. They search with both candles and lanterns, which throw shadows on the wall in the shape of a scorpion. This image of the scorpion still being in the room only in the form of shadow helps set the scene for the next lines as the peasants struggle to help the mother.

The shadow is representative of their primitive fears, that something Evil is lurking just where they cannot see it.

Nissim Ezekiel and Night Of The Scorpion

This fourth stanza continues, and the search for the scorpion has failed, they do not know, as the reader does, that the scorpion fled the house at the beginning of the poem.

A technique that, on stage, or within drama, is known as dramatic irony. A simple, primitive belief, that the reader would very well know to be unfounded. The peasants wish the scorpion to be stilled, but offer a bit of consolation for the mother.

Night Of The Scorpion

They, deep in their superstitions, say to the mother that the poison will burn away the sins of her previous birth, and decrease the suffering of her next. This is a reference to the traditional Hindu belief of reincarnation.

Night of the Scorpion Essay

Due to their lowly social status it was believed that the mother must have committed some kind of grievous sin to be condemned to this life, and that perhaps this suffering she is going through will improve her chances of being reincarnated into a higher position in her next life. This stanza continues into the next in which the speaker continues relaying the words of the peasants.

The speaker describes each peasant as wearing a face that is peaceful with understanding.

  • A simple, primitive belief, that the reader would very well know to be unfounded;
  • More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours, more insects, and the endless rain;
  • Night of the Scorpion I remember the night my mother was stung by a scorpion.

The next two lines allow for quick progression of time. Ezekiel lists a number of developments and additions to the story. All of the following are added to the situation: It can be assumed that quite a large crowd has gathered around the mother. Many there to help, and probably some there just to observe.

Summary of the poem night of the scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

At this point in the story the father is introduced into the poem. He is described as being a very sensible man, rational, and a sceptic. Most likely doubtful of the beliefs of the peasants. At this moment though he is desperate. His father has forgotten his reason and is trying everything he can think of in an effort to save his wife.

A man hopeful beyond reason that a curse or blessing will save his wife. He even goes so far as to burn paraffin on her toe. Just as the poison is moving through her body, so is the flame consuming her skin.

The reader is then informed that all of this has been going on twenty hours. A truly painful and horrific death. Throughout this poem a number of different remedies are tried in an attempt to save the mother, from what the reader can infer, none of them help. Some of these practices will surely seem absurd to a modern reader. They are all human and are united by the final stanza. All can empathize with the love felt for a child, mother or father.

This woman, although distant, living in a different time and place, is just as human and real as anyone reading the poem. After graduating he taught English literature, and continued his studies at Birkbeck College, London where he studied Philosophy. He was married, and published his first collection of poetry in in 1952, The Bad Day. Another book, The Dead Man, was published in 1960. His career also included working in the publication industry, as a critic at The Names of India and editor of Poetry India.

  • This choice adds to the seriousness of the poem subject matter and deadly nature of the story Ezekiel tells;
  • The peasants wish the scorpion to be stilled, but offer a bit of consolation for the mother;
  • The shadow is representative of their primitive fears, that something Evil is lurking just where they cannot see it.

He also held a number of professorial positions at the University of Leeds and University of Pondicherry. He would receive the Padmashri award by the President of India in 1988.

He died in January of 2004 at 79 years old.