What Is "Night of the Scorpion" by Nissim Ezekiel About?

“Night of the Scorpion” recalls a time in Nissim Ezekiel's childhood when a scorpion stung his mother. The poem begins with the frantic actions of his father and village people to battle the scorpion’s poison, and it ends with Ezekiel’s mother recovering from the pain 20 hours later and able to speak. The poem is written in narrative form with a direct language presented in a loose rhymthic pattern.

Nissim Ezekiel’s village endured 10 hours of rain, and a scorpion seeks shelter in the home of the poet’s family. As the scorpion flees back outdoors to escape death from human hands, the family begins the long night of attempting any tactic to heal his mother. Some neighbors come to the home with remedies of their own to stop the poison, and others give chase to the scorpion with the belief that the poison flows through the blood of Ezekiel’s mother as long as the scorpion moves about the village.

The poem focuses on the forces of good and evil. Ezekiel's loving mother and the herbs and prayers administered by the holy man, father and villagers represent the good, and the scorpion stand for the evil that enters the home. The poem ends with Ezekiel's mother expressing relief that the scorpion stung her instead of her children.