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Analysis of Nettles

By eserikiz Oct 17, 2012 921 Words
The poem ‘Nettles’ is a poem that explores the relationship between a father and his son, “Nettles” is cleverly structured i.e. the writer uses engaging imagery and words that normally wouldn’t be used in the context present within the poem to effectively get the poet‘s message across. In the poem 'Nettles', the writer takes something that could be pondered as a simple yet common occurrence, and with some deep thinking about its implications, arrives at an insight into what could be outweighed as a serious problem mankind has to face, suffering at the hands of war.. The poem begins with words “My Son” this represents the fathers love and alternatively ownership of the child. In the poem a three-year-old son falls into some nettles, he is hurt, cries and goes to his parents for comfort. His father cuts down and burns the nettles but realises they will soon grow back. From this simple event it makes us think about human suffering and creates a sense of pity when you read it as the image of a young boy falling in a nettle patch isn't pleasant. And as a human race, we feel sorry for good people who experience unnecessary pain. The constant reminder of the pain felt creates an atmosphere comparable to when nettles sting you. "White blisters beaded on his tender skin" Is a great way to show pain as it describes the effect of the nettles on the skin and also uses sensitive words normally associated with pain to help describe it, Although these constant reminders of pain are quite depressing, they are in a way balanced out by the rhyming found at the end of second line acting as a pseudo- comic relief "My son aged three fell in the nettle bed, Bed seemed like a curious name for those little green spears That regiment of spite behind the shed” Also the poem ‘Nettles’ is only made up of one 16 line long stanza, this seems to have been done intentionally so to symbolise how long a parent has a bond with their child: until the age of 16. Possible reasons as to why he chose to make it this long could be because, after the age of 16, children tend to break away from their family due to the fact that they themselves are becoming adults and hunger freedom and could possibly be having thoughts of starting a family of their own. Furthermore the poet is able to convey this ordered idea which is often used in the army. The consistently changing rhyme pattern has given the poem a rhyme scheme which has an ‘AB AB CD CD’ pattern which is used throughout the poem. By doing this, the poet could have been attempting to spark the thought of soldiers marching into our heads because, when soldiers are marching they are in completely in sync and are able to maintain this synchronisation without even being one second behind the rest. Furthermore, the poet has used an iambic pentameter on every single line of the poem. This use of the iambic pentameter is able to maintain this whole army idea because, by being able to maintain this 10 syllabic pentameter give the poem an ordered, army-like feel. When aware of his son’s injuries, the father exterminates a bed of nettles which grow on top of the land behind a shed. Whilst the father is unleashing his indignation upon the nettles, through the use of a careful selection of words, the poet is able to link the pain of being stung by a nettle to a completely different scale of human suffering which takes place on a wide scale in society today: war. The poet is able to make the ‘bed’ of Nettles resemble an army by referring to them as ‘spears’, spears which could resemble the arsenal the army possess which could potentially inflict fatal damage to their opposition. The poet then refers to these ‘spears’ as a ‘regiment of spite’ which could resemble how the army, to an extent, is disciplined to see the opposition suffer during war. Furthermore, when the Nettles grow back they are referred to as ‘tall recruits’ which could perhaps be symbolising people that recruit themselves in the army for an occupation and finally they are referred to as the ‘fallen dead’ which could be referring to the soldiers being killed in battle. By using these metaphors, the poet has managed to express the nettles’ spite more vividly with his own feelings of anger and aggression. In conclusion through the use of the metaphor ‘My son would often feel sharp wounds again’ the poet could be using the nettles to symbolise the various types of pain the son will have to endure when he has grown up. This change in tense from past to future on the last line of the poem could be the real message of this poem, which is that parents are not able to protect their children forever. The father in the poem recognises both the vulnerability of his child which is expressed by the line where ‘White blisters beaded on his tender skin’ which then makes the father feel hopeless because he is aware that he cannot protect his son forever. In addition, by using these military metaphors and conveying them through the use of a plant, this could intentionally be used to suggest this idea that savage-like and blood filled things like war are all a part of human nature.

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