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Vernon Scannell

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sharp wounds
Added by: Andrew Mayers
Here Scannell takes a simple and common occurrence and, thinking about its implications, arrives at an insight INTO a serious problem of mankind, that of the existence of suffering.
His three-year-old son falls INTO some nettles, 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 Scannell makes us think about human suffering. He does this through a careful selection of words. The word “bed” in the first line makes the poet think about what the nettles represent. He thinks of them as an army. They are “spears” which form a “regiment”, a “fierce parade”. When they grow back they are “tall recruits”. Also “fallen dead” is a way of referring to soldiers killed in battle. These military metaphors are effective because they SHOW how vicious the nettles appear to the poet.
Scannell could have omitted the metaphors and simply related the event without any elaboration. By introducing the metaphors, however, he has managed to convey the nettles’ spite more vividly, together with his own feelings of anger and aggression. The nettles are a symbol, as can be seen FROM the last line where the poet states that his son is bound to suffer frequently FROM “sharp wounds”. Nettles are a symbol for the various hurts and injuries that life will inflict on his son. The father recognises both the vulnerability of his child (well conveyed by “White blisters beaded on his tender skin”) and the limited protection he can offer. It is typical of Scannell to write about the vulnerability and naivety of youth balanced against the experienced view of maturity.
excellent poem
Added by: enrique nolands
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poem because of the brutal reality that it conveys in its words. The deep, intricate descriptions allow the reader to acknowledge exactly what is occurring in the poem at the right time. It is obvious that the poem is implying a story of the pain that Scannell's son, aged three, felt after falling into 'a "bed" of nettles', but you have to read on throughout the poem's duration to understand the father's anguish at the fact that no matter what he does to try and rid his garden of the nettles, they will always return to hurt his son.
The real poem
Added by: Lottie Killy
I would like to inform visiters to this site that this particular poem is NOT called "nettles" it is in fact called "my son aged three".
Added by: annette
As a typical 'mammy' I could really relate to the sentiment in this poem. I loved the emotion that was conveyed by brutally killing the nettle and burning it! I would have done exactly the same thing! I posted this poem on the BBC's poetry corner for others to read and it has had a good response.

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