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Nettles

By | November 2012
Page 1 of 6
NETTLES
Vernon Scannell was born in 1922 in Lincolnshire. His family were very poor and at 14 Scannell left school to work in an accountant’s office. Scannell’s passions were reading and boxing but in 1940 he enlisted in the army and saw action in North Africa and Normandy. However, he hated army life. In 1947 he was arrested, court-martialed and sent to Northfield mental institution near Birmingham. On discharge he moved to Leeds and then London, making a living through teaching, boxing and writing. Scannell won many poetry awards and died at home on 17th November 2007. The poem is very emotional and dramatic due to the fact Scannell had six children, which of three tragically died. In the poem a father hacks down a bed of Nettles that have stung his three year old son. We see that his son has fallen in the nettle bed behind the shed and goes to his father for comfort who soothes him. On the first reading of the title of the poem , the readers probably have something of minor flashback to their experience of stinging nettles - those spiky, green, knee height weeds that tend to grow on neglected land that leave a painful, white rash on the skin. So the poet gives us a very emotive title that immediately chimes with what could be called a collective memory. At the beginning of the poem we see the relation that the father and son share. The boy is firstly mentioned as “My Son”, this quote shows us that he belongs to his father, but it is also an affectionate term. This suggests that his son is very dear to him, means a lots and the father will do anything to protect his son. It also shows ownership. Scannell doubts and questions himself in line two when he discusses what is meant by the term “Bed”. There is a stark contrast with what we associate a bed with and what the bed represents in this poem. This wording sounds like it is soft and cosy as you rest but, this is not the case for the nettle. Scannell then changes his mind and describes them as “green...

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