Treasure Island

Nissim Ezekiel

(16 December 1924 - 9 January 2004 / Mumbai / India)

Night Of The Scorpion


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.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do you like this poem?
6 person liked.
1 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Night Of The Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel )

Enter the verification code :

  • Prem Surya Kumar (7/17/2013 1:25:00 AM)

    One of the poem I read in childhood and I still remember. Absolutely original and unique. A classic poem, which will stand the test of time. (Report) Reply

  • Soulful Heart (3/28/2012 5:54:00 AM)

    so poignantly put................an incident of a scorpion bite turned into an insight of human behaviour.................bravo! ! (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

New Poems

  1. Pigeon, Foster Teegarden
  2. Idle mind at rest, hasmukh amathalal
  3. Against nature, gajanan mishra
  4. Train, Foster Teegarden
  5. Inspiration (Haiku), Toshie Nohara
  6. Rain In Summer, Neela Nath
  7. Friendship is made by God, gajanan mishra
  8. Friend, JAMES T. ADAIR
  9. You'll Never Know, Akhtar Jawad
  10. Resource less, hasmukh amathalal

Poem of the Day

poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

 

Trending Poems

  1. 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  4. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  5. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  6. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  7. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  8. No Man Is An Island, John Donne
  9. Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
  10. Touched by an Angel, Maya Angelou

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]