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Harmonium and Nettles Essay

Harmonium and Nettles both highlight the theme of memory. As they both are looking back over past memories that are painful, the poems feature the feelings of being helpless in stopping the hurt that was caused. The writer in Harmonium feels remorse for the things he hadn’t said to his father as Armitage states “then mouth in reply some shallow sorry phrase or word too starved of breath to make itself heard”. The writer in Nettles is protective of the recurring threat to his child that he can’t destroy. “rain had called up tall recruits behind the shed,” this quote shows the father cannot destroy them .They differ in the way they felt powerless however as in Nettles the father is feeling powerless because of a physical threat whereas in Harmonium it is an emotional threat of the inevibility of death and unspoken feelings that makes the writer feel powerless.

Furthermore they both include the reality of family life as the poems are realistic and the poems, especially Nettles, have both the love and misery of family relationships. In Nettles the love in the poem is the protective instincts of a parent towards his son but the misery is the Nettles that had hurt his child and the fact that being protective isn’t enough to stop him from getting hurt. The realistic relationship in Harmonium is the family resentment and frustration from a son to his father. We can tell that the writer resents and is frustrated by his father as it says “and he being him can’t help but say………. and I, being me” which shows that he is frustrated at their relationship. However the Harmonium is used to describe his father so therefore his family life whereas in Nettles it is reversed. The Nettles, that had caused pain for the boy, is actually describing soldiers and war therefore the underlying message is not about family but about war and the underlying message in Harmonium is not about the Harmonium but about family.

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