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, describes the mother’s reaction to the whole event. It starts of by Ezekiel explaining how the scorpion had come in because of the heavy rain and hidden under a sack of rice, “…steady rain had driven him to crawl beneath a sack of rice.” The scorpion does not seem to be portrayed as any type of villain at first meaning that it probably just stung the mother instinctively when she tried to approach its hiding place but then the poet alludes to evil in the phrase “…diabolic tail…”, comparing the scorpion to the devil, which contrasts with our initial image of the insect. The poet uses alliteration to describe the moment of the sting, “Parting with his poison…”. The scorpion then departs, “…he risked the rain again…”, probably because he was scared off by all the villagers that then come to the house upon hearing about the sting. Ezekiel uses the simile “…like swarms of flies…”to describe their number and behaviour and then develops it in the following line, “…buzzed the name of God a hundred times…”. The onomatopoeia of “buzzed” allows us to hear the constant noise they made. The reason the villagers are compared to flies is to show exactly how exasperating they are and that they are not welcome, like flies. This displays...
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