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Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology)

13. Vernon Scannell, Nettles (1980)

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we read through Vernon Scannell’s ‘Nettles’, focusing in particular on: (i) the relationship between father and son; (ii) the use of military imagery (“spears”, “regiment”, “recruits”); and (iii) the cyclicality of nature and of the human condition: just as the nettles grow back, so will the son “feel sharp wounds again”.

Course

In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores the fifteen poems that make up the ‘Relationships’ cluster for GCSE English Literature (Edexcel). Each poem is read in full, with a short commentary highlighting aspects of language, style, themes, motif, and so on. In the case of Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, for example, we think about the themes of repentance and regret and the balance between fertility and infertility. When we come to Joanna Baillie’s ‘A Child to his Sick Grandfather’, we focus on the relationship between grandfather and grandchild and the language and rhythm of the poem.

The poems discussed in this course are:
1. John Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819)
2. Joanna Baillie, A Child to his Sick Grandfather (1790)
3. Lord Byron, She Walks in Beauty (1814)
4. William Wordsworth, A Complaint (1807)
5. Thomas Hardy, Neutral Tones (1898)
6. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 (‘How do I love thee?’) (1850)
7. Robert Browning, My Last Duchess (1842)
8. Wendy Cope, First Date – He and First Date – She (2012)
9. Carol Ann Duffy, Valentine (1993)
10. Elizabeth Jennings, One Flesh (1966)
11. John Cooper Clarke, I Wanna Be Yours (1982)
12. Jen Hadfield, Love’s Dog (2008)
13. Vernon Scannell, Nettles (1980)
14. Simon Armitage, The Manhunt (2008)
15. Ingrid de Kok, My Father Would Not Show Us (1988)

Lecturer

John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2019, March 08). Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) - Vernon Scannell, Nettles (1980) [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/relationships-edexcel-poetry-anthology/vernon-scannell-nettles-1980

MLA style

McRae, John. "Relationships (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) – Vernon Scannell, Nettles (1980)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 Mar 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/relationships-edexcel-poetry-anthology/vernon-scannell-nettles-1980

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