Vernon Scannell was most famous as a war poet, having fought in World War Two. His other poetry also has echoes of his war experience, as in this poem Nettles.
Structure and language
The poem consists of a single stanza and has alternately rhyming lines. The poem is a narrative account, focused on the father's perspective of an accident involving his son.
Martial (to do with war) imagery and language dominate this poem, which may appear strange at first given the domestic subject matter. By bringing the two ideas together, Scannell is offering his opinion on each.
The nettles are personified as an opposing force. They are a "regiment of spite", and are described using the metaphor"spears". Within the first three lines the nettles are presented as a violent and aggressive group of soldiers to reflect the speaker's need to protect his child.
When the speaker is taking revenge on the nettles the writer again personifies them, describing them as a "fierce parade" as if they were soldiers standing to attention, cut down by his scythe. They are even given a "funeral pyre"(a wooden structure made for bodies to be burned on instead of being…