Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Nettles, Vernon Scannell

Nettles by Vernon Scannell.

Nettles is initally about parental love and a family relationship. There is a feeling of war and revenge with links to the military. The boy featured within the poem is a metaphor for the army and there is an extended metaphor of bad memories. There is a sense of protection throughout this poem and on the 11th and 12th lines, the nettles references could be replaced with soldier references.

The openning states the specific age of the boy similar to Harmonium. There is a juxtaposition between the nettles and his son. There is a very matter of fact discription which is similar to Born Yesterday. The poem explores the connotations of the word 'bed' and 'bed of nettles' which emphasises the nettles. The word 'spears' has a double meaning of weapon and flower stalk.

Personification of the nettles is used on line 3 and the regiment reference features military, archaic language. There is a sense that they are in a very sinister place and that they are hiding. There is a stark contrast with what we associate a bed with and what the bed represents in this poem. There is a shift in language as the poet removes the phrase 'my son' with the less personal article 'the boy'.

Plosive alliteration is used on line 6 and the white and tender skin mentioned relates to innocence and purity. There is a suggestion that two people are involved with the other person being a partner or mum. There is a very regular rhythm to the poem and there is a sense of pain and that can't be completely taken away from the son.

Metaphor is used to emphasise his devastation and up until this point, the nettles have been presented like they are an army themselves. He has helped his son through the devastation but there is an idea that he is preparing an attack by getting his blade ready. He sharpens the blade and the use of the conjunction 'and' is used in repition to show routine and precision to what he is doing.

The word 'slashed' uses sibilence, verb and onomatopeia to speed up the sound and to emphasise the feeling of action. There is also a sense that the father takes pride and is proud. He presents his personified enemy as very hard to beat and organised. There is a precision to what he does with military references throughout.

Personification of nature is used around line 14 and there is an idea that he can't stop his battle against nature. The end of the poem looks at a man's struggle with nature and there is a literal meaning of the poem that his son will get stung again by the nettles. There is also a sense of emotional hurt and that life is an endless battle.

There is a narrative tone to the poem with a moral tone that links with war, the military language suggests this. There is a big contrast between the physical and emotional sufferings within the poem and we get a sense of loss of power. The use of enjambment reflects the pace of battles and emotions. It also helps the poem to sound like a story.

There is continous war imagery and the ideas of anger, revenge and fustration are presented. This poem can be compared to Brothers because of the family relations and responsibility and The Manhunt because of the links to war and the care for a loved one. The use of natural imagery can be compared to Praise Song For My Mother and Born Yesterday compares due to the young child.


  1. When reading this poem I created my own interpretation but however I'm not sure if it does relate to this one. I said that Nettles was a metaphor for a memory. The nettles represent past events. The metaphor of nature connotes a realistic way of how life treats you, you experience difficult times, you recover either by yourself or with parental guidance and then you start again.

    Because of Vernon's background I think he uses war as an extended to broaden the idea of so called 'battles' that you may face in life and relatives wil not always be there to support you.

  2. This is an interesting reading. Who posted this? It is great to have as many points as possible.


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