A Summary of Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

Topics: Vikram Seth, Poetry, A Suitable Boy Pages: 8 (2467 words) Published: May 18, 2013
Summary of poem “night of the scorpion”

The poet's mother was stung by a scorpion on that night when it was pouring very heavily, thousands of villagers on hearing the news came in 'like swarms of flies' trying to do their bit in saving the mother. They came with lanterns, candles and crowded round her chanting the name of God 'a thousand times', they first tried to search for the scorpion for they felt as much  as the scorpion moved the poison of the mother would spread but there was no trace of the scorpion, they wanted the scorpion to sit still,the scorpion had stung her mother on the toeand the villagers hoped that this sting would purify the mother of her earlier sins  and purify the mother of her desires and ambitions. though they were sad of her pain yet the thought that it was doing good to her body adn soul gave them peace.Although the poet's father was sceptic he did all that was told to him by others in order to relieve his wife of the pain, this shows that human beings when they are helpless they do anything told to them to relieve others of their pain.The father even poured paraffin on the toe and lit a match to stop the poison from entering and the poet helplessly watched the flame. 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.

In the poem The Night of the Scorpion the poet depicts the selfless love of a mother who is stung by a scorpion. She suffers a lot because of the pain but still she is happy that the scorpion did not bite her children. The poet goes back to the night when his mother is bitten by a scorpion. By hearing this incident the villagers came into the poet’s house like swarms of flies to console the family. They prayed to God countless times to immobilize the evil creature. The villagers with lights and lanterns started to search for the scorpion but in vain. They also spread a lot of superstitious observations. They observed that if the scorpion moves the poison in the blood of the mother. So they found it is necessary for the scorpion to stay still. Some villagers are of the opinion that the pain she suffers reduces the sufferings of her next life. Another philosophical interpretation the villagers give is that the pain she suffers may purify her desires and ambition. About the poet: nissim ezekim

Nissim Ezekiel (14 Dec 1924 – 9 Jan 2004) was an Indian Jewish poet, playwright, editor and art-critic. He was a foundational figure in postcolonial India's literary history, specifically for Indian writing in English.

He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his Poetry collection, "Latter-Day Psalms", by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.

Early Life

Ezekiel was born on 16 December 1924 in Mumbai (Maharashtra). His father, Moses Ezekiel, was a professor of botany at Wilson College, and his mother was principal of her own school. The Ezekiels belonged to Mumbai's Marathi-speaking Jewish community, known as the 'Bene Israel'. He was maternal uncle to Nandu Bhende.

In 1947, Ezekiel earned a BA in Literature from Wilson College, Mumbai, University of Mumbai. In 1947-48, he taught English literature and published literary articles. After dabbling in radical politics for a while, he sailed to England in November 1948. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College, London. After three and a half years stay, Ezekiel worked his way home as a deck-scrubber aboard a ship carrying arms to Indochina.


Ezekiel's first book, The Bad Day, appeared in 1952. He published another volume of poems, The Deadly Man in 1960. After working as an advertising copywriter and general manager of a picture frame company (1954–59), he co-founded the literary monthly Jumpo, in 1961. He became art critic of The Names of India (1964–66) and edited Poetry India (1966–67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the...
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