Night of the Scorpion

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"Night of the Scorpion" is a poem by Nissim Ezekiel included the AQA Anthology.It starts in a house at night where it is raining and a scorpion, in order to take some shelter, comes to the house. This poem is about how the scorpion stung the poets mother and how she escaped and the mother's love for her children.

The poem opens in a way that suggests reflection—the speaker remembers (and, is so, older now) the night his mother was stung by a scorpion, which bit the mother because of its predatory impulse, while hiding beneath a bag of rice to escape from the rain. The speaker specifically remembers this night due to this event- namely, the mother getting bitten. The way in which the mother is bitten is also shown in 'flash of diabolic tail'; the speaker manages to suggest that the scorpion is demonic with its "diabolic" tail, and emphasises its speed with the word flash. The scorpion then flees the scene and, thus, risks the rain again. A picture of a religious village is created by what the neighbours do to paralyse the scorpion("buzz the name of God"). Their reason for this is that they believe that as the scorpion moves, his poison moves ion the blood of the mother. It is also implied that they live in a caring, close-knit village by the fact that the neighbours feel welcome at all. The speaker is displeased by their arrival, comparing them to flies (unwanted and irritating) as they veritably buzzed around the mother. They tried to provide reasons and many relied on superstition to guess what the problem was. The villagers tried to find the scorpion but they couldn't. By saying," With candles and with lanterns throwing giant scorpion shadows on the sun-baked walls." the speaker is implying there is still evil haunting the house, even after the scorpion had left the house. This could also be implying that the shadows of the various house hold utensils and other items are converted by the brain of the searchers into the shadow of a scorpion- as that is what they are looking for. Many things were tried to help relieve the mother's pain but none worked. The speaker watches, helpless. The speaker's father who was sceptic and rationalist, tried to save his wife by using powder, mixture, herbs, hybrid and even by pouring a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a match to it, this reflects to one of the village peasant saying, "May the sins of your previous birth be burned away tonight." Which the father tries to do;Not for burning her sins but to burn away the poison residing inside the mother, which reflects her sins being atoned for. The speaker watches the vain holy man performing his deceptive incantations but he cannot do anything to stop it. The peasants, finally accepting the fate of the mother, try to put a positive spin on the situation by saying that even if the mother died, her next life (An Indian Belief) would be less painful , as she atoning for her future sins by enduring this pain. After twenty hours, the poison loses its sting and the mother is okay. A sign of her prevailing love and affection for her children is shown when she thanks God that she was stung and not her children. It came from a religious background and Nissim wrote this poem trying to give the impression of anger, but also an underlying message of motherly love, along with a hint of culture and superstition..

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