Book Review: Collected Poems of Nissim Ezekiel

Nissim Ezekiel’s Collected Poems (1952-1988) published by Oxford India, with an Introduction by Gieve Patel records Nissim Ezekiel’s literary journey from close quarters.


Nissim Ezekiel was a poet of many dimensions. He enriched and established Indian English language poetry through his personal innovations. He is regarded as the father of modernity in Indian-English Poetry. He was the one who started promoting Indian-English Poetry.


Nissim Ezekiel’s poetry was influenced by Eliot, Auden, Pound – Poets of the 1930s. Hence, the reader might feel the influence of those poets in these poems. As author-poet, Nissim Ezekiel has left a rich heritage of his literary work in the collection of poems in the book.


The Collected Poems (1952-1988) deal with love and loneliness, and he has poems on urban-life, and about communal discrimination in Indian society. Some of his poems have political background.


Moreover, there is philosophy, music, wit and an amount of accumulating sad reality in the verse, and that is so in the living human’s possession. A person like Nissim Ezekiel can reappear on the scene to be carrying the imprint of it all.


‘Night of the Scorpion’ is popularly identified with Nissim Ezekiel, who gives the narration of the stinging scorpion and how it tortures the body of his mother.


‘Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa T.S.’ takes the readers to another space… distinctly the space belongs to a satire on the English language.  Here, the poet imitates the style of those Indians who are not so well-versed with English – due to the fact that English being the second language to them.

‘Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa T.S.’ is swift to convey the purpose of the poet – delivering wit and humour by committing the ‘grammatical errors’ which are typically made by the speech-maker in the poem.


The poems give a deep insight of a man who lived so humbly and helped so many to find their emotional roots through their creative work. The book will remain as a priceless gift for those who like Nissim Ezekiel’s style and give his poems considerable importance in the world of poetry.

Geeta Chhabra

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