Commentary on 'Night of the Scorpion' by Nissim Ezekiel

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Commentary on “Night of the Scorpion” by Nissim Ezequiel The poem “Night of the Scorpion” by Nissim Ezekiel is an account of how the poet remembers his mother being stung by a scorpion when he was young. However, he does not write about his own feelings or reactions; we realize he is merely the narrator. Most of the poem is in the third person, as Ezekiel reports on what other people do and say and he uses various images and senses to make us visualise the scenes. The poem is written in free verse with different line lengths and no rhyme. The first part is long and full of activity as we see how the villagers react and act to the scorpion’s bite by engaging in some kind of witch-hunt. The second part, only three lines long,…show more content…
This contrasts with the mother who is twisting “groaning on a mat”, obviously in pain. It is ironic that they seem to be at peace because of her discomfort. Line thirty-two and thirty-three, “More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours, more insects…”follow a repetitive pattern. Ezekiel seems irritated. More and more peasants are arriving with their lanterns and nothing can help his mother. The poet then makes the first direct reference to his mother’s suffering, telling us that she “twisted through and through” and was groaning in pain. He then turns to the reaction of the father who is not religious and does not believe in superstitions, “My father, sceptic, rationalist…” Yet, when his wife is suffering he resorts to “every curse and blessing” to help her. Such was his desperation. The short sentence describing his father enhances the tense atmosphere of the situation. Ezekiel describes in detail that his father actually set fire to the toe that had been bitten which must have had a profound effect on the poet as a child. He “watched the flame feeding on my mother”, personifying the fire. Ezekiel uses alliteration here and we might even perceive this line to have a dual meaning. The “flame” may simply be referring to the flame of the paraffin or

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