Comparing Poems From Other Cultures; Night of the Scorpion and Nothing's Changed

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Abigail Baxendale R11

Poems From Other Cultures

                        In this essay I am going to be comparing to poems from two different cultures. “Night of the Scorpion” by Nissim Ezekiel and Tatamkhulu Africa’s “Nothing's Changed.” I feel the poems have two different cultures as although both poets leave an impression of being impoverished , in night of the scorpion the neighbours all work together as a community to help each other. While in Nothings Changed it is the complete contrast to that as the community is divided, by racism. Nissim Ezekiel is often credited with beginning the modernist movement in India and was one of India's best known poets. “Nothings Changed” is an  poem. Tatamkhulu Afrika lived in Cape Town's District 6, which was then a thriving mixed-race inner-city community. People of all colours and beliefs lived together peacefully, and Afrika said he felt 'at home' there.  

                        “Night of the Scorpion” is set in a poverty stricken area. You can see this from Nissim Ezekiel’s vocabulary such as “sacks of rice” this shows us that the villagers have to have to eat cheap bland food.

He also illustrates an image of poverty from “the peasants came like swarms of flies” he uses this simile for specific effect to emphasise the poor living standards the villagers live in aswell as that it’s a hot, unhygienic and dirty environment. Flies give the impression of  bad hygiene etcetera. Again the poverty of the village can be seen by “ With candles and with lanterns” they obviously cannot afford electricity as it seems to be a third world environment and instead of carrying for example torches, they have to make do with there own light lit from candles.  From Nissim choice of language in Night of the Scorpion it is obvious that the environment described is poor.

                      In “Nothings Changed” the living conditions of the two different races is highly emphasised. For example he says “the new up-market, haute causine” when describing the restaurant this conjures the impression of an expensive restaurant it also says they have “port Jackson trees” these are trees which are imported from Australia, this further emphasises that this restaurant is an expensive high-end restaurant. He also says that theres a “guard at the gatepost, whites only inn.” undoubtedly  this also illustrates an idea of an exclusive restaurants if exclusive restaurant and are going to greater extents such as hiring a guard to keep the black Africans out. These living conditions are then deliberately contrasted to the poor “working mans café” by the poet. It goes on to say “ take it with you, eat it at a plastic tables top, wipe your fingers on your jeans” this is said to create a dirty, poor and of course unhygienic atmosphere, a lot like in night of the scorpion this is also seen again when he says “spit a little on the floor: it’s in the bone” this is done to disgust the reader and be shocked by the comparison with the swanky restaurant described earlier. Another example of the poet trying to create the black Africans, or working class side is when he says “bunny chows” like “Port Jackson trees” mentioned earlier this is chosen specifically by the poet to get a desired effect which accentuates that particular living standard. But instead of this time of being ridiculously expensive, it is trying to create the idea of a poor greasy food as bunny chows which is Bread stuffed with pilchards or similar, a poor man's hamburger.

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                         The culture in the two poems I feel is drastically different for example the norms in each society are completely contrasting. For example in “Nothings Changed” He says 'we know where we belong', meaning he can only remain on the outside looking in. So although it no longer says 'Whites Only' on a board like it used to, only the more wealthy Caucasian people would feel they had the right to be there, almost like an unspoken. ...

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