Born Yesterday & Nettles

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Both of the poems ‘Born Yesterday’ and Nettles’ deal with an unidealistic view focused on the inability to protect our loved ones from inevitable pain. Both Vernon Scanell and Phillip Larkin convey the theme of the lack of power to deliver happiness using the relationship between a man and a beloved child. In the poem ‘Nettles’, the relationship explored is between a father and son using the adult’s perspective whereas ‘Born Yesterday’ uses a bond between a man and his friend’s new born daughter. The first poem recalls an incident where Scanell’s young son was stung by nettles, displaying the poet’s desire to protect his son from the dangers of the world. The title ‘Nettles’ creates the thought of the severe stinging pain that the nettles produce that the reader will have experienced. The nettles within the poem can be taken both literally and metaphorically to represent the pain that the son will experience throughout life. In contrast, within the second poem, Larkin grants the cherished child a simple life full of ‘happiness’ and ‘not the usual stuff’. ‘Born Yesterday’ describes the normal wishes bestowed on new-borns that are overrated and that being average shouldn’t be overlooked. The title itself alludes to the idiom ‘I wasn’t born yesterday’ which compares the speaker’s intelligence beside the naïve child that literally was born few days ago. ‘Nettles’ is a narrative wrote in the first person that opens with ‘my son’ suggesting the matter addressed is personal to the speaker of the poem. The continuous rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter gives the poem a uniformed, controlled and structured feel that reflects the military theme referenced. The structure also resembles a sonnet’s emphasising Scanell’s love for his son. Scanell’s use of enjambment throughout the poem develops an informal tone that conveys his internal thoughts displaying his despair over the

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