Night of the Scorpion Summary and Analysis: Nissim Ezekiel

Read our detailed notes below on the poem Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel. Our notes cover Night of the Scorpion summary, themes, and analysis.

Night of the Scorpion: The Poem

I remember the night my mother
was stung by a scorpion. Ten hours
of steady rain had driven him
to crawl beneath a sack of rice.

Parting with his poison – flash
of diabolic tail in the dark room –
he risked the rain again.

The peasants came like swarms of flies
and buzzed the name of God a hundred times
to paralyse the Evil One.

With candles and with lanterns
throwing giant scorpion shadows
on the mud-baked walls
they searched for him: he was not found.
They clicked their tongues.
With every movement that the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother’s blood, they said.

May he sit still, they said
May the sins of your previous birth
be burned away tonight, they said.
May your suffering decrease
the misfortunes of your next birth, they said.
May the sum of all evil
balanced in this unreal world

against the sum of good
become diminished by your pain.
May the poison purify your flesh

of desire, and your spirit of ambition,
they said, and they sat around
on the floor with my mother in the centre,
the peace of understanding on each face.
More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours,
more insects, and the endless rain.
My mother twisted through and through,
groaning on a mat.
My father, sceptic, rationalist,
trying every curse and blessing,
powder, mixture, herb and hybrid.
He even poured a little paraffin
upon the bitten toe and put a match to it.
I watched the flame feeding on my mother.
I watched the holy man perform his rites to tame the poison with an incantation.
After twenty hours
it lost its sting.

My mother only said
Thank God the scorpion picked on me
And spared my children.

Night of the Scorpion Introduction:

Nissim Ezekiel’s Night of the Scorpionis a solid yet straightforward explanation on the intensity of self-effacing love. Full to the overflow with Indianness, it catches a very much withdrew high contrast depiction of Indian town existing with all its superstitious straightforwardness. The writer sensationalizes a clash of thoughts battled during the evening in lamplight amongst great and insidiousness; amongst haziness and light; amongst realism and visually impaired confidence. What’s more, out of this disarray, there emerges a surprising champ – the magnanimous love of a mother.

Night of the Scorpion makes a significant effect on the reader with an interaction of pictures identifying with great and malicious, light and dimness. At that point the impact is elevated indeed with the droning of the general population and its mysterious, incantatory impact. The excellence of the poem lies in that the mother’s remark handles the people suddenly on basic, compassionate grounds with an unexpected punch. It might even help the reader to remember the shortsighted supplication of Leo Tolstoy’s three recluses: “Three are ye, three are we, show leniency upon us.”

Night of the Scorpion Summary:

  • The poem opens in a way that recommends reflection—the speaker recollects the night his own mother was stung by a scorpion, which bit his mother as a result of its savage drive, while stowing away underneath a sack of rice to escape from the rain.
  • The speaker particularly recollects this night because of this occasion in particular, the mother getting nibbled. The manner by which the mother is chomped is likewise appeared in ‘blaze of fiendish tail’; the speaker figures out how to propose that the scorpion is evil with its “diabolic” tail, and stresses its speed with the word streak.
  • The scorpion at that point escapes the scene and, in this way, hazards the rain once more.
  • A photo of a religious town is made by what the neighbors do to deaden the scorpion (“buzz the name of God”).
  • Their purpose behind this is they trust that as the scorpion moves, his toxin moves in the blood of the mother.
  • It is likewise suggested that they live in a minding, affectionate town by the way that the neighbors feel welcome by any stretch of the imagination.
  • The speaker is disappointed by their entry, contrasting them with flies (undesirable and bothering) as they veritably hummed around the mother. They endeavored to give reasons and many depended on superstition to think about what the issue was.
  • The villagers attempted to discover the scorpion yet they proved unable.
  • By saying,” With candles and with lanterns throwing giant scorpion shadows on the sun-baked walls.” the speaker is suggesting there is as yet fiendish frequenting the house, even after the scorpion had gone out. This could likewise be inferring that the shadows of the different house hold utensils and different things are changed over by the cerebrum of the searchers into the shadow of a scorpion-as that is the thing that they are searching for.
  • Numerous things were attempted to help calm the mother’s agony yet none worked. The speaker watches, defenseless.
  • The speaker’s dad who was cynic and pragmatist, attempted to spare his better half by utilizing powder, blend, herbs, cross breed and even by pouring a little paraffin upon the chomped toe and put a match to it, this reflects to one of the town laborer saying, “May the transgressions of your past birth be consumed with extreme heat today around evening time.” Which the dad endeavors to do; not for consuming her wrongdoings but rather to consume with smoldering heat the toxic substance living inside the mother, which mirrors her transgressions being gave penance for.
  • The speaker watches the vain sacred man playing out his beguiling spells yet he can’t successfully stop it.
  • The laborers, at last tolerating the destiny of the mother, endeavor to put a positive turn on the circumstance by saying that regardless of whether the mother kicked the bucket, her next life (An Indian Conviction) would be less difficult, as she making amends for her future sins by persevering through this agony.
  • Following twenty hours, the toxic substance loses its sting and the mother is alright. An indication of her overall love and love for her youngsters is demonstrated when she expresses gratitude toward God that she was stung and not her kids.

It originated from a religious foundation and Nissim composed this lyric endeavoring to give the impression of outrage, yet additionally a fundamental message of protective love, alongside a trace of culture and superstition.

Night of the Scorpion Themes:

Main Theme:

Pictures of the dim powers of insidiousness possess large amounts of Night of the Scorpion; the underhanded tail of the scorpion, goliath scorpion shadows on the sun-prepared dividers and the night itself point to detestable. Truth be told, the ballad is about the correlated inquiry with respect to what can overcome fiendish. Where superstition, logic and religion demonstrated useless, the self-destroying affection for a mother had its say. Indeed it is “Love vincit omnia.” Love overcomes all, and that is all you have to know.


Superstition is an imperative topic that is canvassed in the verse of Nissim Ezekiel. His verse investigates certain aspects of the Indian life that are so frequently addressed and thought about out of date, yet at the same time pervasive. In Night of The Scorpion, Nissim Ezekiel depicts a circumstance that is illustrative of the rustic Indian ethos and draws out the commonness of such a circumstance.

Night of the Scorpion Analysis:

  • Night of the Scorpion is a free verse poem with 8 stanzas and a total of 47 lines.
  • There is no set rhyme scheme and the meter is mixed.
  • The scorpion is seen by some as an evil force, bringer of pain and hardship and even death. Note the use of the word diabolicas the desperate creature stings the woman and makes off out into the rain.
  • The peasants are seen as being superstitious and old fashioned, even illiterate, not having moved on in their thinking and culture.
  • The father meanwhile is just the opposite in the sense that he is a rational, reductive type of person who is unimpressed with the peasants and their mumbo-jumbo. Yet, he resorts to using paraffin on the mother’s toe, setting it alight, not a very scientific response.
  • The mother perseveres, she is in agony all night but finally triumphs and does not succumb to the venom of the scorpion. For all that time she was unable to utter a word, capable only of groans, until the pain subsided and the relief she felt gave her the power to sum her experience up: thank goodness it was her who took the sting and not her children, for they probably would not have survived.
  • “Night of the scorpion” is ordinarily an Indian poem by an Indian writer whose enthusiasm for the Indian soil and its customary human occasions of everyday Indian life is sublime. A decent numerous Indians are ignorant and are indiscriminately superstitious. In any case, they are straightforward, adoring and adorable. They endeavor to spare the casualty by doing whatever they can. Be that as it may, they don’t succeed.
  • The poem is translated as an emblematic juxtaposition of haziness and light. The night, the scorpion, the toxic substance and the agony speak to dimness. The ceaseless rain remains for expectation and recovery. Candles, lamps, neighbors and at last the recuperation of the mother speak to light. The poem can likewise be thought of as emblematic of Good and Insidiousness as well.
  • Ezekiel uses a simile comparing the villagers to ‘swarms of flies’ (line 8). It is striking that he uses an insect image to describe the people’s reaction to an invertebrate’s sting. He develops the simile in the following line: ‘they buzzed the name of God’ (line 9). What does the fly simile suggest about Ezekiel’s attitude to the neighbors?
  • The neighbors’ candles and lanterns throw ‘giant scorpion shadows’ on the walls (line 13). We know that the scorpion has already fled, so are these images of the people themselves? (A scorpion has eight legs, so the shadow of a small group of people standing together could look like a scorpion.) If so, what does this show about Ezekiel’s attitude to the neighbors?
  • There is a contrast between the neighbors’ ‘peace of understanding’ (line 31) and the mother who ‘twisted… groaning on a mat’ (line 35). It is ironic that they are at peace because of her discomfort.
  • There is alliteration throughout the poem that helps to link or emphasize ideas: the scorpion is seen ‘Parting with his poison’ (line 5), Ezekiel’s father tries ‘herb and hybrid’ (line 38), Ezekiel sees ‘flame feeding’ (line 41) on his mother. Underline other examples of alliteration and see if you can explain the effectiveness of their use? • There is a lot of repetition, so that we hear the villagers’ prayers and incantations. Ezekiel uses direct speech, ‘May…’ to dramatize the scene and the echoed ‘they said’ is like a chorus: A group of characters in classical Greek drama who comment on the action but don’t take part in it. In a song, the chorus is a section that is regularly repeated.