There are several themes at play in this poem by Nissim Ezekiel . The poem is about the night when the speaker's mother was stung by a scorpion. The scorpion itself, however, is largely absent in the poem; the poem is, instead, about the efforts of the peasants, the family's...
There are several themes at play in this poem by Nissim Ezekiel. The poem is about the night when the speaker's mother was stung by a scorpion. The scorpion itself, however, is largely absent in the poem; the poem is, instead, about the efforts of the peasants, the family's neighbors, who come "like swarms of flies" to try and prevent the speaker's mother from being too affected by the scorpion's sting.
The family is not left to suffer the sting alone. On the contrary, the neighbors put themselves to great effort to search for the scorpion, determined to kill him so that the poison in the mother's blood will not take root. In their efforts to protect this woman, who is not a member of their direct family, they invoke their superstitions; they form a protective circle around her and chant, and the number of people who arrive at the house seems to have been considerable. The speaker remembers it as "more candles, more lanterns, more neighbors," as if the would-be helpers never ceased to arrive. The theme highlighted here, then, is that of community and of selflessly caring about people other than ourselves. When, at the end of the poem, the sting disappears from the mother's toe, it isn't clear whether the neighbors' superstitions have contributed, but it is clear that the family feels loved and protected by the community.
Another theme, picked out at the end of the poem, is that of a mother's love. Although we know that the mother in the poem has suffered greatly from the sting, twisting "through and through" on her mat while the people prayed over her, her only thought is to be glad that her children were spared. She would rather suffer this pain herself than have it inflicted on her children.