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Night of the Scorpion Nissim Ezekiel. Born in Bombay in 1924 Parents Israeli so brought up in the Jewish faith As a child very serious about religion.

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Presentation on theme: "Night of the Scorpion Nissim Ezekiel. Born in Bombay in 1924 Parents Israeli so brought up in the Jewish faith As a child very serious about religion."— Presentation transcript:

1 Night of the Scorpion Nissim Ezekiel

2 Born in Bombay in 1924 Parents Israeli so brought up in the Jewish faith As a child very serious about religion As an adult strongly influenced by atheist and rationalist views Travelled to London in his early 20s and it was there he decided to become a poet Nissim Ezekiel

3 Reincarnation: This Hindi belief is evident in the poem Belief that when people die the soul leaves the body and is reborn into another body Person’s new identity on rebirth is decided by the good (or bad) deeds he or she has done in previous life Spiritual aim of Hindis is to purify themselves in each successive life so that eventually they will achieve moksha – release from the cycle of reincarnation when the soul returns to the eternal stillness of the divine Brahman, or godhead

4 Listen to the poem again It is a narrative poem The poet uses the first person. This gives the impression that it is told from personal recollection The focus of the poem keeps shifting This emphasises the role of the narrator as observer

5 LinesFocusLinesFocus 1-7 Scorpion – seeking Shelter – stinging Mother - leaving The shift of focus

6 Can you find two reasons why the poet might have chosen to separate the last three lines from the rest of the poem?

7 Re-read lines 1-7 We are given a contrasting image of the scorpion Which words suggest that he is a helpless and timid creature? Which words suggest he is powerful and dangerous?

8 What does each of the following images show you about the peasants? Image of peasantsWhat the image suggests they ‘came like swarms of flies’ (8) they ‘buzzed the name of God’ (9) they threw ‘giant scorpion shadows/ on the mud-baked walls (12-13) they ‘clicked their tongues’ (15)

9 What use does the poet make of repetition in lines 16-33? What effect does this have? What does the poet show you by his use of the following words: ‘My mother twisted through and through’ (34) ‘I watched the flame feeding on my mother’ (41)

10 The poet tells us about the scorpion, the peasants, his father, the holy man and his mother. What does he think about each of these? What the poet thinks about:My reasons for thinking this: The scorpion: helpless creature – reacts naturally by stinging mother – looks evil Has to ‘crawl’ under a sack. He ‘risked’ the rain again Has a ‘diabolic’ tail The peasants: His father: The holy man: His mother:

11 Ezekiel’s poetic technique is simple: Note: The contrast between the very long first section, detailing the frantic responses of everyone but the mother, and the simple, brief, understated account of her selfless courage in the second section. The lines are of irregular length and unrhymed but there is a loose pattern of two stresses in each line. The lines are not end-stopped but run on – this is sometimes known as enjambement.

12 Instead of metaphor and simile the images are of what was literally present ( the candles, lanterns, shadows on the walls). There is repeated use of reported (indirect) speech – we are told what people said, but not necessarily in their exact words and never enclosed in speech marks. Ezekiel writes in a free style and colloquial manner. To conclude: He makes direct statements and uses few images.

13 From reading this poem what do you learn about: the community in which Ezekiel grew up his attitude to it? And finally:


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