In The Country Cottage is one of the finest poems of Nissim Ezekiel. Ezekiel has composed his very best poetry out of the ordinariness of human life. He also exhibits his inborn love for Indian landscapes, Indian flora and fauna. In the poem “ In The Country Cottage” for him (Ezekiel) Lizard was patient, active, firm in determination and strong in will power and teaches the lesson of patience and it does its work of eating the cockroaches with tireless energy and patience, and silently goes away when the work is done:

When we awoke the next

morning we found as we

expected that the job

was done, clean and complete,

and the Stout Lizard gone.

Summary and Analysis

The speaker talks of a particular night when a lizard came out at night. On seeing the lizard, the members of the country cottage seem to become lazy (indolence means idleness or laziness) and drop their guards. They decide to go to bed early even though they weren’t really sleepy, either to stretch their limbs and relax or to make love. The lizard lay without any movement, stiff and grey in colour as if to hide its presence. This lizard was obviously waiting for its prey. To the speaker, the lizard seemed to teach a lesson of patience through its act of waiting motionlessly for hours in hope of catching its prey. The lizard was more alive and full of concentration in this act of waiting in silence than humans could be in silent energy. All this energy from the lizard’s side was merely for the act of killing a cockroach. The next morning when all the members of the house awoke, they found that the lizard had done its job well and left the place. The lizard is described as a sturdy or stout lizard who did a ‘clean and complete’ job without leaving anything behind.

Through this poem, Nissim Ezekiel draws a comparison between human beings and lowly creatures such as the lizard. The lizard is used as a symbol to highlight the importance of cleanliness, perseverance and dutifulness. The lizard shows so much concentration and energy for achieving such a small task as killing a cockroach unlike human beings who don’t bother to show the same energy or hard-working mentality for achieving bigger or more important aims in their lives. Instead humans are indolent and fail to complete tasks as completely and neatly like the lizard does. The lizard, unlike man, also had a strong sense of responsibility and dutifulness which is why it cleans out all traces of the cockroach after killing it as wanted by the members of the cottage, hence described as a ‘clean’ job. The words ‘immobile’, ‘tense’ and ‘grey’ are used literally to describe the stout lizard. But it could also connote the state of being indolent human beings. Nissim Ezekiel uses the poem to shed light on the fact that achievers are always both patient and energetic and thus succeeds in completing the task he sets for himself just like the lizard in the poem. Instead of wasting precious time and energy on futile activities, the poet urges them to save their energy for better purposes or to achieve one’s goals in life just like the lizard that remains silent, saving its energy for the task it needs to complete that day. The lizard in the poem teaches human beings important lessons on patience, determination and will power. Thus, Ezekiel proves an ordinary lizard to be far superior to man.

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