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Comparing and Contrasting Poems

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Introduction

Comparing and Contrasting Poems. Culture, tradition and faith, 'The Night of the Scorpion' by Nissim Ezekiel and 'Sacrifice' by Taufiq Rafat are two poems that revolve around these themes. The poets question and criticise these values and provoke the reader to think; should culture and tradition have any value in today's society? Is faith still a legitimate factor in the 21st century? Both poets debate this highly controversial issue through their personal recollection and feelings towards them now that they look back on them. Both titles have a magnetism to them which draws us in, curious and hungry for more. Rafat's title 'Sacrifice' is short and snappy where he effectively uses the negative connotation of the word 'Sacrifice', and uses the utter horror that people feel when they come to know that such a concept is still alive somewhere and not yet banished to the past. Ezekiel also employs the effective use of negative connotation of the words 'Night' and 'Scorpion', as well as drawing the reader in with curiosity, but he does so in a different manner. Ezekiel uses the simplicity of the words to give the reader a taste of his work and plays upon the emotions that words such as 'Night' and 'Scorpion' arouse in people. Scorpions are considered very deadly and unlucky creatures throughout the world and when the reader sees this word immediately visualises a dangerous creature and so using only the title of the poem the poet has already started to evoke imagery and has started to use the reader's defencelessness. The kinglike qualities we assume the scorpion has after reading the title are the way the poet plays on our curiosity and vulnerability. Ezekiel uses the simple words: 'The Night of the Scorpion' to catch the reader's eye, even the words 'of the' signify the scorpion and give us such a sense of power that we are left amazed. ...read more.

Middle

He starts to justify the sacrifice in the second stanza and in the end tells us about the setting and atmosphere: 'The glare of the sun, The heat and the smell of blood' This helps the reader visualise the circumstances the poet is in. In many ways the concept of the poems are different but both poets set their poems in order to give us a view of their culture and religion. We guess using the poet's names that they themselves belong to the culture that they are criticising in the poem; this similarity is very prominent throughout both the poems. Both poets create a setting in which they are onlookers. We are shown that Rafat is more involved in the ceremony because of the use of 'we' instead of 'they' as Ezekiel used and also because in line 7 he tells us; ' we stand in tight circle.' Despite all of his critical opinions he is part of that ritual, still he gives the reader the impression that he doesn't have a say in that matter. Both poets are shown to be spectators of the event which is ironic in Rafat's case as he says he is standing in the circle which undoubtedly symbolises the unity in between the group but when he tells us his real views they are absolutely the opposite of what he is participating in. In contrast Ezekiel never shows us that he is part of the ceremony in any way and is always depicted as an observer. He use the word 'they' or refers to the peasants as 'swarms of flies' in line 8 also in line 41 as well as line 42 he tell us that he 'watched'. Using all these references we can sum up that Ezekiel shows no wish to be part of the customs taking place in front of him. He doesn't regard any of the incantations by suggesting the peasants 'buzzed the name of God'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though this poet isn't too harsh with his sentences we are shown that all the prayers and incantations meant nothing to him, similar to Rafat's conclusion. Both poets end their poems leaving the reader with a strong feeling about the poem, some enraged by the way they have criticised the religions and most horrified by realizing what is going on in the world. Both poets have kept their last stanzas small, I think it's to show the reader the significance of the lines as these are the lines that summarise and conclude the whole poem. Ezekiel uses the role of a mother to end his poem: 'My mother only said Thank God the scorpion picked on me And spared my children.' This shows that the poet isn't the only one critical of the people's beliefs but so is his mother as she does not believe that it was meant to be a punishment by an agent of the devil but it 'picked' on her as if it was going to pick on somebody it was just by chance that it was her. Rafat concludes his poem with a very strong metaphor that sums up how much he disagrees with the ritual: 'We are not laying the foundations of a house, But another Dachau.' Both poems have a very strong theme of cultural beliefs and both poets are very critical of it. I personally favoured the 'Night of the Scorpion' because of the many effective devices used and the story like layout. I thought 'Sacrifice' was good as well especially the shifting of perspectives and I believe that it penalises the reader to put themselves in Rafat's position and see the occurrence through his outlook ;but overall I found Ezekiel's poem to have a greater impact on my opinion towards cultural and superstitious beliefs. He also challenged the beliefs and faiths but I feel he did it more subtly, where Rafat used comparisons to the 'Dachau', Ezekiel ingeniously does the same but without overwhelming the reader. ?? ?? ?? ?? Tajwar Iqbal. English-maple 6 ...read more.

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