Night of the Scorpion-Nissim Ezekiel
Two Scavengers in a Truck, Nothing’s Changed-Two Cultures
Vultures, Limbo-Contrasting Views
Nissim Ezekiel (White male poet):
1. Nissim Ezekiel was born in Bombay, now Mumbai, India in 1924. 2. His parents were Israeli and he was brought up with the Jewish faith, though he had friends of many different religions.
3. As a child he was very serious about religion and often spoke to his friends on a deep scale in relation to religious matters.
4. As an adult he was strongly influenced by atheism- the belief that there is no God. He was therefore considered an atheist.
5. Ezekiel travelled to London in his early 20’s and it was there that he decided to become a poet.
6. Ezekiel is considered to be an Indian poet who writes in the western tradition.
1. In this poem the poet tells us about the events of a particular night when his mother was stung by a scorpion.
2. He describes it as if he were a stranger viewing the scene from outside the family. 3. He seems to comment on everyone’s reactions to his mother’s suffering in contrast to her own selfless attitude.
4. It is a narrative poem, i.e., it is told as a story.
5. First person is used (I saw…I ate…) at the start as it is told from a personal reflection-something that really happened. However he does not give his own feelings or reactions to what happens. He is merely the narrator.
6. Most of the poem is in the third person as Ezekiel reports on what other people do and say.
7. The focus of the poem keeps shifting thus emphasising the role of the narrator as the observer/onlooker of what is happening.
8. The Hindu belief of REINCARNATION is evident throughout the poem. 9. REINCARNATION is the belief that when a person dies, their soul leaves their body and is reborn into another.
10. Their new identity on rebirth is decided on the good/bad deeds they carried out in their previous life.
11. The spiritual aim of Hindus is to purify themselves in each new life so eventually they will reach/achieve a state of MOKSHA-which is release from the cycle of reincarnation, when the soul returns to the eternal stillness of the divine BRAHMAN or godhead.
SETTING AND CONTEXT:
1. A woman is stung by a scorpion-the neighbours gather to offer support and advice. 2. All sorts of cures are tried by her husband, neighbours and the local holy man, but time proves to be the best healer. After twenty four hours/it lost its sting. 3. After her ordeal the mother is simply thankful and grateful that the scorpion stung her and not her children.
4. This poem seems to be autobiographical-the poet is writing from a personal experience.
5. The details of the poem, e.g., lack of electricity, neighbours described as peasantssuggest a rural/country setting in a developing country.
FORM AND TECHNIQUES:
1. The poem takes the form of free verse. One long stanza and one very short stanza. The final stanza is a comment from the mother.
2. The first long stanza if full of activity-the scorpion’s bite and reaction of the villagers. 3. The second stanza is the mother’s reaction and is just three lines long. 4. Line 3-steady rain had driven him-use of personification in describing the scorpion; the scorpion is given human characteristics.
5. Line 6-diabolic-word used to describe the scorpion, which introduces the idea of evil in the poem. This is a word we associate with negative religious images, especially the devil.
6. Line 7-he risked the rain again-personification used again to give the scorpion human characteristics.
7. An extended image is used in the poem, i.e., an image that is carried through for some time in the poem.
8. This extended image shows the neighbours as pests.
9. Line 8-like swarms of flies-simile describing the neighbours. 10. Line 9-buzzed the name of God-giving their opinions on what was going on. 11. Line 10-The Evil One-the devil-more religious imagery.
12. Line 12-throwing giant scorpion...
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