This is said, because the poet is trying to show that it was opinion and not fact, what they were saying. Their behaviour seems to be superstitious and unhelpful to him. In their prayers, they say that the mother has sinned in a previous life. This is cultural, because they believe in reincarnation, but also superstitious, because the sins from the mother’s previous life, has caused the mother to be bit, as a punishment. The poet seems unhappy about what they are doing and believe in. By using “they said”, so many times, is to clarify that he does not agree with their cultural beliefs.
Many of the lines in this part of the poem begin with “may”, which makes what the neighbours say sound like a prayer or incantation and the poet finds these incantations and superstitions silly and pointless. His descriptions make the mud hut sound very compact and claustrophobic. It is full of lanterns and candles and shadows and clicking tongues, which adds to the tension of the moment. The repetition of “and” helps to build the feeling of pressure and tension. We can see why the scorpion would want to escape the hut and we feel that the poet would like to as well. So the poet is feeling what the scorpion is feeling.
The mud hut is alive with activity and pressure of healing the bitten mother. In contrast, the charnel house in “Vultures” is surprisingly calm. This gives the reader a surprising image because the word charnel conjures up images of death, and in the subject of this poem, violence. Even more surprising is the personification of love in the charnel house tidying up. “Love in other ways so particular will pick a corner in that charnel-house tidy it and coil up there”. This is going back to the message of the poem, that love can be found anywhere. This stanza begins with one word, “strange” which is set alone on a line.
It causes the reader to pause and think “that’s strange”. It is strange, not that love exists in a charnel house, because death does not mean that we stop loving people; but that “her” behaviour is so ordinary and dismissive: she tidies up, chooses a corner and goes to sleep, “her face turned to the wall! ” “She” doesn’t even notice all the bones of dead people, but looks at the positive side of it. Why? This is a metaphor to say that after death, we tidy up our memories of people, but in the end, the idea of death is a hard thing to face and we try to avoid it, by turning away from it.
So, perhaps this idea is not “strange” at all. The descriptions of places and people in these sections of the poems are highly descriptive. In the mud hut, the help offered by the neighbours is unwanted and the poet feels it is pointless and annoying. The atmosphere is busy and irritating. In the charnel house description, there is an atmosphere of calm and that there is nothing unusual. Both these descriptions are surprising. In the “Night of the Scorpion” the reader thinks that the help would be welcomed, but is not. In the charnel house the reader is surprised that love is so calm in such unusual circumstances and surroundings.
Another point of similarity, between these poems, is that they both describe fathers. At first, the Commandant in “Vultures” has nothing in common with the father in “Night of the Scorpion”, but there is more to it. The father in “Night of the Scorpion” is described as “sceptic, rationalist”. He is logical and thoughtful. He is not like the other neighbours, and does not believe in the superstitions and cultural beliefs that they believe in. The poet seems to admire these qualities in his father. But when faced with the possible death of his wife, he becomes illogical and desperate.
So he starts following the lead of the neighbours and goes completely against his own values. All the things he tries to do to help his wife is a comparison with the usual rationalist approach to his life. The poet is not impressed at this point. The reason for his sudden change of character is because he loves his wife. He wants to help, but does not know how. He is helpless and children do not like to see that in their parents. We understand the poet’s disappointment with his father. The Commandant similarly loves his children. Although he is described as an ogre for “roasting” other human beings, he is also referred to as “Daddy”.
This childish word tells us that he is doing this for a living and as a father he needs to buy a treat for his children on his way home from work, and we understand how his children feel about their father. So we cannot accuse the father of being completely evil. We can see from the rest of the description that the poet has no respect for this man. His description leads the reader to hate him. He buys treats for his “tender offspring” while he smells of the equally tender people he has killed that day. But the man does not seem worried or guilty of killing all these people, so we can accuse him of being barbaric.
The two fathers from these poems are alike. The description of them shows that they are loved and admired. But they both do things which are not so admirable. Finally, both poems explore the many “layers” of love. “Night of the Scorpion” looks at the love a son has for his father and a husband for his wife. But the love a mother has for her children is the ultimate. The final three lines of the “Night of the Scorpion” reveals this idea. After all the fuss and worry of the neighbours and the father, the mother finally says something. Having been silent throughout the poem, she thanks God that she was bitten and not her children.
This is supporting the idea that the love a mother has for her children is the ultimate in all types of love. The mother speaks in a new stanza entirely, which makes the reader think that this must be important. The conclusion of “Vultures” is more ambiguous. The last stanza leaves readers with many questions about love. It says that at least the father loves his children, that there is a “tiny glow-worm” of love and compassion in him. But it also asks if that is enough, because the “ogre” can love his children, the vulture can love his companion. This is love, but only for other family members.
If love is only felt for family members, then does this mean that acts of cruelty and violence can be carried out against anyone who is not in the family? For me, the conclusion of “Vultures” is quite negative. The whole tone of the poem and the descriptive use of imagery is negative and depressing. I think that the poets feel that there is not enough love in this world for people not to harm each other. The message of “Night of the Scorpion” is simple. It says that time heals and love does not need exploring, it is what it is. For this, this conclusion is positive, but less question arising than that of “Vultures”. ??