Tuesday, 21 May 2013


'Nettles' is an account from the perspective of a father of how his son fell into a nettle bed. The poet personifies the nettles to appear like an army, showing how relentless nature can be. This contrasts with traditional views of nature as good and pure.

In the second line, Scannell highlights the irony of the collective noun "bed" which is used to describe a cluster of nettles. Highlighting the discomfort they cause, he goes on to use the metaphor "spears" to compare them with weapons, items which are traditionally used to deliberately cause harm. This introduces the personification of nature, with the idea of intentional harm continuing throughout the poem.

Other examples of personification of the nettles include "That regiment of spite", "that fierce parade", "the fallen dead" and "tall recruits". What unites all of these images is the military metaphors created, with the nettles being likened to large groups of men intentionally using violence. The collective noun "regiment" emphasises the power created by the sheer numbers of nettles, which are presented as a formidable force. Scannell uses a tone of respect and remembrance with "the fallen dead", thus showing how he recognises that nature simply follows... well, it's nature! Plants and animals are conditioned to survive, and Scannell clearly respects this survival instinct.

Further personification is used to describe "the busy sun and rain", which are seen as controlling forces in the nettles' battle against the speaker. Here, Scannell is portraying not only the nettles, but the whole of nature being at war with humans, especially with him and his son.

Ultimately, Scannell realises through this incident that he cannot protect his son's innocence forever, and that the whole world is a damaging, hurtful place, stating "my son would often feel sharp wounds again". Here, he is referring to both the physical and emotional pain which leads to the loss of innocence. His innocence is emphasised through the image of his "tender skin", which has not yet become hardened by age and experience. Furthermore, the "watery grin" suggests his tearfulness, and the lack of force in his smile, having not yet matured enough to do anything but show how he is truly feeling.

Any questions?
What do you think about the structure of the poem?

Miss D


  1. The poem has a single stanza and also has rhyming schemes. The poem focuses on one narrator, the father and his perspective of the situation involving his son.

    By Bryony, Cierra and Chanté.

  2. The poem consists of a single stanza and has alternately rhyming lines (ABABCDCD...). The poem is a narrative account, focused on the father's (Scannell's) perspective of an accident involving his son. Scannell was most famous for being a war poet, so from this and the language used in the poem we can gather ideas as to how the structure contributes to a deeper, hidden message. Personally I feel like the structure of the poem is almost one of a march, the feet moving alternately as the rhyming scheme moves alternately, this gives us the image of an organised well structured account of the poem. The fact that the poem is all in one stanza also adds to the idea of a perfectly structured poem as it is given in one chunk of information; Scannell is almost like a war correspondent, narrating the accounts of what happened. The fact that Scannell treats the account like a war, which we have gathered from both language and structure suggests that this over exaggerated narration shows us that he has so much love for his son and that anything, even mother nature will be torn to bits if it harms his son. On the other hand we may also see that Scannell is so caught up in the happenings of war that he even sees a small incident with his son as a war, and that the way he talks, narrates, acts, it all revolves around the concept of war.
    P.S Don't moist me off IF I'm wrong :)
    P.S.S Milk better be free...

  3. The poem consists of a single stanza and has a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. The poem is organised neat just like the army would be organised ( regimented). The poem is also very predictable just like nettles as they always sting you so he is trying to say nature is always predictable to hurt you no matter what you do. The poem is a narrative account, focused on the father's perspective of an accident involving his son relating to the army and his thoughts and views on it.

    Onyeka :)

  4. I like the info about Scannell being a war poet - it's a shame nobody picked up on the allusions to WW1 when you did your mock on The Apple Raid :) (I'm hoping there's lots of "Oh yeeeeeahs" right about now!)