NOTES: The Night of the Scorpion

I’ve tried my best with the notes, but some errors might have crept in. If you find any error(s) please comment.



This is a poignant poem by one of the India’s foremost modern day poets, Nissim Ezekiel. Using imagery relating to the senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing, the poet depicts the selfless love of a mother who is stung by a scorpion. She nearly dies and yet is thankful that the scorpion had spared her children. The poem can also be seen as a comment on a culture where superstitions still play a significant role.

Detailed Summary:

The poet recalls very vividly (clearly) the night when his mother was stung by a scorpion. Ten hours of incessant rain had forced the scorpion to seek refuge in the poet’s house (rain water must have flooded its hiding place in the open) It sought refuge under a bag of rice and stung the poet’s mother when she went into that room. The viciously wicked creature poured its poison into her in a flash of its devilish tail and ventured out into the rain. On hearing of the unfortunate incident, the peasants rushed to the poet’s house with lighted candles and lanterns. They uttered the name of God countless times and prayed to God to immobilise the evil creature. Against the light of the lanterns, the shadows of the crowd cast on the mud walls looked like huge scorpions. The peasants looked for the scorpion everywhere where but it in vain. Being unsuccessful in their attempt to capture the scorpion they clicked their tongues. They were superstitious people and made several observations. They said that with every movement of the scorpion, its poison would also spread/course in the mother’s blood. Hence, it was imperative (essential) that the creature should not move at all and remain still. Some peasants said that her pain that night would burn away all her sins of her previous birth. They wished that her present agony should reduce her suffering in the next birth. They hoped that in this illusionary world where evil outweighs good deeds, her pain would diminish the quantum of evil. Some tried to console the mother with the remark that the scorpions poison would purify/cleanse her body of all desires and her soul of sinful ambition. They sat around the mother on the floor. Their faces were calm and peaceful. They believed that the mother’s agony was for her good.

More and more neighbours arrived with lanterns and candles. The presence of the insects and the rain added to the chaos. There seemed to be no end to the mother’s pain. The rain continued unabated. All this while the poor suffering mother was groaning and writhing in pain as she lay on a mat.

The poet’s father acted differently because he did not believe in prayers, religion and was a man of reason and logic. He was distraught at the sight of his wife’s agony and even cast aside his beliefs to somehow reduce her suffering. In his concern for his wife he tried out herbal medicines, magic and prayers to diminish her pain. The child watched helplessly as his father even poured some paraffin on the bitten toe and set fire to it. The flame burned brightly making the mother’s pain acute. The poet remained a mute spectator as he watched the holy priest perform his rituals and used spells to curb the poison. But all efforts to diminish the mother’s pain proved futile. Her pain subsided after twenty hours. Forgetting all her torment, the self sacrificing mother uttered words of thanks-giving to God in making the scorpion choose her as a victim, not her children. Thus the poem which begins with pain and anxiety ends on a grateful and optimistic tone.

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61 thoughts on “NOTES: The Night of the Scorpion

  1. stella says:

    great job!!! man

    • Naveena says:

      Thank you so much.this will surely help me in doing well in my test tomorrow.I would like to make suggestion regarding a spelling ‘immobilize’

  2. Lakshay Batra says:

    ya i liked it…
    i think there r no errors

    padaku bachuu

  3. amit tomer says:

    nice explanation boss,
    i really liked it

  4. someidiot says:

    thank you it is seriously a wonderful gesture

  5. someidiot says:

    thanks shikhar!!

  6. antra says:

    hii look whoever u r u hv done a gr8 job n pls cn u get notes for becoz i could not stop fr death alsoo

  7. sindhu says:

    hey thanks a lot!!

  8. shreya says:

    explained in detalied really prply..:))

  9. Vineet Arora says:

    u r marvelous explainer. the article really helped me.
    tjanks a lot

  10. Vineet Arora says:

    I think the mother would have been spared as told in last lines
    “After twenty hours it lost its sting”
    she wouldn’t have died…………please reply……………..

    • Shikhar says:

      Of course, the mother recovered from the sting of the scorpion. I never said she died, if she did how would the poem end “on a grateful and optimistic tone”?

  11. charu says:

    nice explanation

  12. krishna says:

    It’s really amazing! it helped me a lot.

  13. Saumey Jain says:

    Thanks for your notes
    They were very helpful

  14. SIddhesh says:

    Hey in the 5th line of Detailed Summary u have written poem instead of poison,
    By the way great summary

  15. isitrequired says:

    and even in the fifth line i think it must have been on hearing instead of one hearing

  16. Anumika says:

    Excellent explanation..!!..Thanx. It was a great help.

  17. dhruv says:

    thx this is the only website i found a detailed description of the poem

  18. ssshhhhh says:

    Hey! it really helped me.

  19. shasha says:

    i want to know what does poet want to describes by these poetic line please……if
    smone has,,,,,

  20. AKash Prahlad says:


  21. alicia says:

    great notes!

  22. Ipshita says:

    Thnx as this helped a great deal, u’v dun real gud wrk. This poem is anothr gud example of Ezekiel’s stress on the Indian lifestyle. Starting 4rm d superstitions, d beliefs of re-incarnation, and then this Cortorization, everything says about d Indian culture.
    And then the mother’s love is not just an internal issue, its a worldwide concept of a mother’s selfless nature. I’m a student of degree 1st year 4rm Assam, havin my exams 2moro, nd widout any proper notes! To say- u saved me.

  23. Sam says:

    i’m really thankful to u coz this info will help me alot im 20marks project.
    thanku very much…

  24. priyanka banerjee says:

    thanks a lot 4 dis suggestion, i hope this will also help me in my project work.

  25. MOHIT BAJAJ says:


  26. MOHIT BAJAJ says:


  27. rhythm says:

    thnx a lot !!!!!!!
    really nice explanation.

  28. deepthi says:

    wonderful summary n simple but standard language…….surely is a grt help for my MA xams……wt u do sir?….if possible, may i know?

  29. J says:

    Dear Sir

    From where can we get the multiple levels of meaning of this poem..?
    For eg: The scorpion is the British and the mother here is mother India.. that is one view..
    Another feminist view is that through out the poem mother is passive and all others are experimenting on mother…

    Can I get more different views…?

  30. shreeya says:

    this summary is very useful for students

  31. shreeya says:

    this summary helped me a lot

  32. shreeya jaiswal says:

    this summary is very nice !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. JO says:

    JO said,this summary helped me

  34. JO says:

    FREYA said,
    this summary helped in my project

  35. FREYA says:

    FREYA said,
    this summary helped in my studies

  36. nelopher says:

    nice summary

  37. Diptakshi says:

    Thanks a ton……………………..It really helped…….I just need one clarification,is the holy priest the poet’s father himself?

  38. nimesh says:

    can u let me know the significance of the scorpion?

  39. arvind sharma says:

    this is a very good explanation but you forgot to concentrate on the areas like ‘flash of the diabolic tail’, over all i liked your blog

  40. nimesh says:

    whats the significance of the scorpion please!!

  41. saloni raghav says:

    <3 <3 <3 awesum awesum awesum <3 <3 <3

  42. saloni raghav says:

    In the 13th line of the detailed summary, you have made a grammatical error… u’ve written- but it in vain. Don’t you think it should be- but in vain!!!!
    plzz correct the error….!! :)

  43. huma says:

    awesome dude

  44. Anshul S says:

    how does the poet treat the themes of time,death and immortality?

  45. rishav says:

    very good sumary

  46. Nannu says:

    oh my god! what an osm explaination! u saved my ass dude! have a test tomorrow! …… last minute preparations! :)

  47. Debu says:

    Thnx …..It really helped me a lot in my Assignment :D

  48. tony says:


  49. s10 says:

    these were really helpful:)
    i didnt understand the meaning of “flash of diabolic tail”??
    what is the poet exactly trying to say here
    pls reply fast cuz hav my exams next week::::::((

  50. astha says:

    Thank u so much..ths wil help me…waise jb xam hote h tb hi kyu sb padte hai..pehle se padlo, to itni tension b na ho

  51. Ananda Bikash Chakma says:

    It seems realy helpful to me,so thank u so much for your efforts….

  52. ani says:

    Thank u soooooooo much! This was very helpful for my exam! Wish u had prepared notes of all the lessons and poems in my text book..



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