Stanza-wise Summary of The Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel


Stanza wise summary of The Night of the Scorpion:

First stanza:

The poem starts with the reminiscence of a terrible event in the childhood of the poet when his mother was stung by a scorpion. This incident in retrospect brings forth the poet’s gall of criticism against the irrationality of the average uneducated person. The poet brings out the unavoidable circumstance in which the insect had come into contact with the mother. The rains had flooded the nests of the insect and thus to save itself it hid under a sack of rice. When the mother had gone there to fetch rice the insect afraid of its life had stung the mother in self-defense. The sting was quick and the insect ran away but the news brought more nuisance in the form of the peasants.

Second stanza and third stanza:

These peasants who were uneducated village folk could do nothing but to make a tiny incident snowball into a big issue where these people found fertile ground to propound their stupid superstitions. Some people said that the more the scorpion moves the quicker the poison will spread in the body of the victim. In fact, the villagers actually take their candles and lanterns to search for the Scorpion. From this absolutely foolish assumption, the people soon moved onto philosophy where in the metaphysical scale of universe acts of redemption balances sins.

Fourth stanza:

The people wax more philosophy by saying that the sufferings of this birth would mitigate the sufferings of the next. According to them, pain is directly proportional to the sins of the past life and inversely proportional to coming life. While the mother was in mortal pain some people pretended to understand her pain and do nothing. But the father was very much a rational man who instead of taking the mother to a doctor actually tries various herbs and medicines to get rid of the poison. In fact, he burns the toe of the mother. Yet all the all patient earth she forebears and to our amazement thanks the heavens since it was her that was stung and not her children.

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