Nettles: Poetry and Son

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Nettles by Vernon Scannell

The poem ‘Nettles’ by Vernon Scannell revolves around a father’s perspective on an accident involving his son, through which the poet explores a father-son relationship, wherein the father tries to protect his son from the various difficulties in life. However, despite his efforts to shield his son from these problems, they will be a constant threat in life. The boy here is a metaphor for the army, with the nettles being an extended metaphor of recurring war. The combined effect of these metaphors throws light on the difficulties in life. The poet has crafted a title which aptly uses symbolism to depict the nettles as evil. A cursory reading of the poem portrays the protective instinct of a father for his
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The poet uses personification by describing the nettles with the human quality of being ‘fierce’. This makes them seem like the enemy’s army which has been destroyed by the father. The poet ends the stanza using an enjambment to possibly show the continued struggles in his son’s life, leading the readers to connect emotionally to the father’s devotion to his son’s happiness.
The final stanza revolves around the nettles retorting to the father’s attacks. In the first line, the father is shown to give the nettles a funeral. This shows the father ending the troubles caused by the nettles. With effective choice of words, the poet describes how the ’sun’ and ‘rain’, representative of nature and its power, finally help the nettles grow. The word ‘recruits’ shows the enemy army was returning and regrouping. Furthermore, the word ‘tall’ depicts the nettles being stronger and healthier than before and their readiness for the battle. The final line states that the son would be hurt by the nettles soon and again. While problems won’t wane with time, despite all of the father’s efforts, the son will have to find a way to learn to adapt to the renewed struggles in his life.
On a concluding note, while an individual may have multiple protectors, the lesson of independence is fundamental to life. Hurdles must be encountered and tackled to emerge with strength and power. One of the most
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