- Slides: 12
‘Nettles’ by Vernon Scannell LO: To explore how Scannell uses imagery and metaphor to convey his feelings about parenthood
Vernon Scannell • This poem is about a father protecting his son. • It’s about the dangers of a dark, menacing world in which nobody and nothing can be saved. • Nature will attack you, be cut down, grow back and fight you again… just like the military will hunt you down and find you if you leave without consent. • Scannell is protecting his son from a world he hates and fears.
Vernon Scannell • Sees war in everything • Was a dark character, 85 when he died. • Lived through 2 nd World War and the Cold War. • Joined the army aged 18. • He was addicted to desertion, leaving the army without consent twice. • He was sent to a psychiatric hospital the 2 nd time. • He had 2 children (1 was handicapped and died as a young child, the other died in a bike crash as an adult. )
Watch the You. Tube clip to listen to the poem
Possession Emotive Oxymoron – emphasises contrast between image of stinging nettles with security of bed. Full stop forced reader to slow down My son aged three fell in the nettle bed. A ‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears, B That regiment of spite behind the shed: Metaphor – bayonets It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears linked to military/ violence Inverted commas suggest contemplation. personifies – like a battalion of soldiers
Sibilance linked to emphasise the soothing of his injured son Alliteration emphasises small blisters 2 nd quatrain – language more tender and protective The boy came seeking comfort and I saw A White blisters beaded on his tender skin. B We soothed him till his pain was not so raw. A At last he offered us a watery grin, B Father anxious for his son to no longer feel pain Oxymoronic image – merging laughter of comfort with relief of pain. Reflects changing moods of children Shows he’s vulnerable Dark, violent image Protective images
3 rd quatrain – language changes to being very regimented And then I took my billhook, honed the blade A And went outside and slashed in fury with it B Till not a nettle in that fierce parade A Stood upright any more. And then I lit B Personification helps to portray military images used when destroying nettles Military references Anger towards nettles / feeling that he is chopping away at bad memories of the past.
4 th quatrain offers clue to his resentment towards military Metaphor burning the wounded/ dead. Ultimate end reinforced by sounds of consonance Lost at war A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead, A Natural forces But in two weeks the busy sun and rain B Surreptitious/ furtive Had called up tall recruits behind the shed: A My son would often feel sharp wounds again. B New recruits to replace those who have died Last line = negative image. Maybe about loss of his son or about pointlessness of trying to protect your children. Links back to the beginning/ emotive/ possessive Clue to deep rooted hatred towards the military
My son aged three fell in the nettle bed. ‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears, That regiment of spite behind the shed: It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears The boy came seeking comfort and I saw White blisters beaded on his tender skin. We soothed him till his pain was not so raw. At last he offered us a watery grin, And then I took by billhook, honed the blade And went outside and slashed in fury with it Till not a nettle in that fierce parade Stood upright any more. And then I lit A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead But in two weeks the busy sun and rain Had called up tall recruits behind the shed: My son would often feel sharp wounds again. Metaphors linked to military references
Theme: war/ violence/ danger (in nature and the everyday world) Language • Metaphors are linked to the military/ war/ painful images. • Anger – there’s danger in all things. Negative poem. Physical hurts trigger memories of mental scars • Protective – natural rhyme in poem reflects a nursery rhyme sung to comfort a child. Structure • • Simple ABAB rhyme scheme Iambic pentameter 4 quatrains Simple melodic rhyme scheme reinforcing sense of nursery rhyme for child.
Compare to: another poem that shows anger and strength of those feelings
How does Scannell use imagery and metaphor to convey his feelings about parenthood? In your answer explain why Scannell has chosen to use military images to explore ideas about parenthood in this poem.