Nettles” by poet Vernon Scannell is a reflective poem based on the poet trying to protect his son from hurting himself in a nettle bed. I found this poem very emotional and touching and this is mainly why I chose to write about it. The poet reflects on his own experience to prove his point of view, and he achieves this, and I indent to analyse what point he is trying to convey in this poem.
The poem is set in the poet’s own garden, with the nettles hidden out of sight behind the shed.
The young child (the poet’s son) falls into the nettle bed, which causes him to cry as it hurt him. This poem is extremely effective as it means a lot more than just a boy falling into nettles. The message that the poet has expressed in this poem is that parents can’t always protect there children no mater how hard they try. Also, it is very emotional, about the father’s feelings for his son, which makes the poem very dramatical and more effective.
The use of imagery in the poem effectively helps the poet get his message across. The poet uses different techniques to make the poem more interesting and seem more realistic. This helps us imagine the scene clearly and creates an atmosphere.
“That regiment of spite behind the shed. It was no place for rest”The strong word “spite” emphasises how much malicious the nettles are, that they have a strong desire to hurt someone, in this case the young boy.
Saying a “regiment of spite” links to battle, and the fact these nettles want to cause harm and pain, they are linked to war, as though they are soldiers. They are behind the shed, and this gives us thoughts on how sly they are. They lurk out of sight, and wait to attack. This tells us how merciless they are, rule and harmful. “No place for rest” is a very effective phrase to use here, as it is a nettle bed. “Bed” is associated with sleeping, resting and comfort, and to say nettle “bed” seems curious to the poet, as nettles are associated with nothing but pain discomfort and suffering. The poet clearly feels this is no place for sleeping or resting.
“Went outside and slashed in fury with it, till not a nettle in that fierce parade stood upright anymore.”The use of personification effectively illustrates the poet’s message. We can clearly tell the poet is furious with the nettles, for hurting his child, as the words “slashed in fury” tell us this. “Fury” is a very strong word, and emphasizes how angry he feels. “Slashed” also suggest how fast he acts, and used with the words fury creates a sense of hatred towards the nettles, and we can imagine why. The nettles hear are described as a vicious army, the father seeks revenge on them, and clearly gains it as it is followed with “stood upright anymore”. This is like an army being defeated, lying dead on the ground, no longer standing tall.
“But in two weeks the busy sun and rain had called up tall recruits behind the shed.”The poet has used metaphors in the poem to illustrate his message. Yet again, the nettles are referred to as though they are an army, and they have been called up to fight in a war. The fact they are described as “tall” makes them seem stronger, bolder and intimidating, the poet is trying to create an image of these nettles leering over the child. Also, they are concealed behind the shed, making them seem sly and cunning, ready to sneak out and hurt the boy when he least expects it. Therefore, the nettles have a much better advantage than him, so he will be much likely to be hurt again.
Word choice is an important feature in this poem, as it helps us understand the poet’s message. The poet cleverly uses words so we understand his message. This is very effective. Here is an example of word choice.
“White blisters beaded on his tender skin”The poet has used efficient adjectives to describe the boy’s skin. “White blisters” gives thoughts of pain. It makes us think of pain and suffering, which is good as that, is what the young boy feels. It is also tells us how young and vulnerable the child is, because “tender” suggests this. It also suggests how innocent and young he is, that he needs to be protected from the vicious nettles. Also, “blisters beaded”, tells us that the boy may be scared for life. This is a terrible experience for the boy and his father, and blisters could scar him, a reminder of this event.
After the poet destroys the nettle bed he decides to set fire to them:”A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead”This is very dramatic as it is a huge fire to burn dead people, or nettles in this case. He wants to burn the dead, because they harmed his son. This phrase is very effective is make us think of death and funerals, which is usually depressing, and nettles are depressing and harmful. Fallen dead is saying the nettles have finally been defeated, and are fell down. They are described as though they are humans, or solders dying.
The poet’s message is that you can’t always protect your children. He has used an experience he and his son with the nettles to show this, because its tells us that he tried to protect his son, but in the last line of the poem, he said “my son would often fell sharp wounds again” which tells us his son is going to get harmed, no mater how hard he trys to protect him.
In conclusion, nettle’s is a fantastic poem, which tells us about the poet’s feelings, and him trying to protect his son. I have enjoyed this poem, because it is very effective and interesting.