All the poems in the section ‘That old rope’ are about parent child relationships. Both ‘Nettles’ by Vernon Scannell, ‘Lullaby’ by Rosemary Norman and ‘upon my son Samuel’ by Ann Bradstreet are all similar due to the re occurring theme of the parents desire to protect their children from harm.
‘Nettles’ is written from the viewpoint of a father who is trying to protect his son from hurt. It is quite a complex poem as it uses an extended metaphor throughout .
Whereas ‘Upon my son Samuel’ is a simple poem in the form of a prayer, where the speaker (a mother) seeks protection from God for her son who is taking a dangerous journey overseas.
The poem ‘Lullaby’ in contrast is written from the viewpoint of a child directly addressing a parent. Unlike the other two previous poems ‘Lullaby’ uses a universal idea of not applying a gender to those mentioned allowing the reader to easily relate the poem to themselves.
‘Nettles’ is written as the father looking back on an episode in which his son has been hurt, therefore the reader is cleverly distanced to convey the father’s dislike to think of his son in pain. The poet makes effective use of sound effects by using embedded alitteration such as ‘But in two weeks the busy sun and rain’ the clever use ‘of the ‘s’ sound gives the impression of pain and sobbing. Also the sibilant ‘s’ creates the sound of a slicing noise such as the cutting of nettles that is discussed during the poem. ‘That regiment of spite’ shows the extended metaphor used throughout the poem as the nettles are portrayed as an army ready to cause the son pain. The rhythm of this poem contrasts to convey the marching of the personified nettles.
‘But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
had called up tall recruits behind the shed’ this effective use of enjambment is used also throughout the poem to convey the fathers anger and show the drive in launching war upon the nettles. Emotive vocabulary ‘pain, raw and tears’ clearly conveys to the reader the pain that the son is in these words are also closely linked in with the symmantic field that effectively uses words such as ‘dead and wounds’ to convey once more the pain for the son. Each line of the poem has either ten or eleven syllables to create a regular rhyme beat that emphasizes the ending circle of the nettles growth. The last line ‘My son would often feel sharp wounds again.’ Is ironic as it conveys that the father cant protect his son forever.
The poem ‘Upon my son samuel’ is structured in a very different way to ‘Nettles’ as it is in the form of a prayer to god which is emphasized by the use of rhyming couplets and the use of second person as it is a direct address. We are aware that the poem is a prayer due to the use of religious words such as ‘preserve and protect’.The closeness of the poem cleverly stresses the closeness in the relationship between the poet and God ‘hes mine,but more,oh lord thine own’ the use of mine and thine in embedded rhyme also conveys the strength of the relationship. ‘The child I stay’d for many years’ conveys to the reader that she has waited many years for her son and enables the reader to see how precious he is to her. However, the poet then goes on describe yet how if God sees right not to save her son she will still accept that demonstrating her belief as she see’s her son as a gift from god therefore allowing him the right to save him or not The poem cleverly changes rhythm at this point ;
‘then I shall celebrate his praise,
and bless thee for’t even all my days.
If otherwise I go to rest,
Thy will be done, for that is best;’
It convey the change of thoughts in the poem. We learn about the poets feelings towards her son however we also are shown her belief in god which is different to both ‘nettles’ and ‘Lullaby’.
‘Lullaby’ is also structured in a very different way. Unlike both ‘nettles’ and ‘my son samuel’ this poem has been written from the viewpoint of a child addressing the parents. Therefore as it is a direct address it has been written in colloquial. Also the language used is simple so that the idea that this poem is being spoken by a child is believable. Each stanza represents age and time in the childs life as the poem moves forward . The child voices the parents concerns at that time and ironically assures them that it will be alright which has always been the job of the parent.
Enjambment is used throughout the poem ;
‘go to sleep, I wont
climb out of my cot
and tumble downstairs.’
To emphasize certain words such as ‘wont’ or to create an image for example in this quotation it talks of the child falling down the stairs so the words fall onto the next line.
The last line of the poem ‘if I need any milk, I’ll yell’ conveys that the child will always need its parents and relies on them .
I think the poems are all successful in conveying the parental relationships as the use of language builds up the image of love and affection. However, I thought that ‘Nettles’ was the most effective due to the symantic fields and the interesting and clever use of the rhythm and rhyme to convey hidden ideas of the fathers desire not to allow anything to harm his son.