The Poems of Nissim Ezekiel

The Poems of Nissim Ezekiel Summary and Analysis of "Midmonsoon Madness"


At the beginning of "Midmonsoon Madness," the speaker expresses a desire to leave his current circumstances and go anywhere. However, he also knows that his wish to go "anywhere" is too broad for action, which means he probably will end up going "nowhere" (lines 2-3).

The speaker goes on to muse that it feels like it is raining upon the past. In this state, it is only the monotonous repetitions of daily life that he can be sure of, since he knows they will extend into the future. In this way, the future is clearer than the past is: "I shall see nothing clearly / except the future stuff of dreams / repeating what has always been" (6-8).

In the next stanza, the speaker reveals that those things that, in the past, he feared would occur indeed "have come to pass" (10). He wonders if they happened because he dreaded them. He then says that when it rains overnight, he can hear his own madness. It urges him to destroy everything and start a new life.

In the final stanza, the speaker reveals that what he wishes to destroy is his familial responsibilities, as the feeling of his wife and children surrounding him in the sleeping house "add[s] to the chill" (18).


This poem, which was written in Ezekiel's middle age, explores the relationship between nature and the individual. The speaker of this poem is clearly very influenced by the rain outside; so much so that he is prompted to consider changing his entire life. Nature and mental state become one within this poem because of this. This is not surprising to careful readers of the Collected Poems, since the collection that "Midmonsoon Madness" was published in is much more interested in the natural world than Ezekiel's earlier poetry.

This poem represents a shift in Ezekiel's poetry—before the publication of The Third and this poem in particular, the natural world always stood for a force of harmony and good in Ezekiel's poetry. In contrast, the rains in this poem are causing hostility and madness in the speaker as they unhinge him. In the case of this poem, the rain can almost be seen as a symbol for disaster. The results of this disaster are as psychological as they are physical.

Ezekiel attempts to emulate the rain through his language in "Midmonsoon Madness." The stanzas at the beginning of the poem do not contain a single pronoun and the lack of specificity in prepositions adds to a sense of haziness/confusion: it is very hard to find concrete language to hold onto when the first few stanzas contain indistinct words such as "here," "anywhere," and "nowhere."

"Midmonsoon Madness" is one of Ezekiel's more evocative poems, and this can be traced to the poem's tone. The first three stanzas are so slow and almost stagnant that the reader experiences the overwhelming feeling of stuckness that the speaker is enduring mid-disaster and mid-Monsoon. The reader sympathizes with the speaker until she realizes that he is considering leaving his family. Either way, he comes off as a sympathetic figure.

Finally, Ezekiel purposefully waits to reveal the family to us in the final stanza in order for it to be a surprise. Rereading the poem once you have read the ending makes for a very different experience. The way that Ezekiel refrains from revealing the source of the stuckness until the last few lines has a jarring emotional effect. It forces the reader to re-evaluate what they think about the speaker. The language in the final stanza is succinct and direct—Ezekiel does not mask the speaker's feeling with poetic devices or allusive speech. Instead, he is bracingly honest—one of the most characteristic aspects of Ezekiel's poetry.