'Tall Nettles' by Edward Thomas
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TALL nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.
This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Tall Nettles: An Exploration of Nature and Time
When I first read "Tall Nettles" by Edward Thomas, I was struck by its simplicity and its ability to convey complex emotions through vivid imagery. The poem describes a field full of tall nettles that have grown up around a ruined house, and it explores themes of nature, time, and decay. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore these themes in more detail and analyze how Thomas uses language and structure to create meaning in the poem.
Overview of the Poem
Before diving into a close reading of the poem, it's important to provide some context and background information. Edward Thomas was a British poet who lived from 1878 to 1917, and "Tall Nettles" was published in his first collection of poetry, "Six Poems" (1916). Thomas was known for his nature poetry, and his work often explored the relationship between humans and the natural world.
"Tall Nettles" is a short poem consisting of three stanzas, each with four lines. The poem describes a field full of tall nettles that have grown up around a ruined house. The first stanza sets the scene:
Tall nettles cover up, as they have done These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.
The second stanza describes the nettles in more detail, focusing on their beauty and their ability to thrive in difficult conditions:
This corner of the farmyard I like most: As well as any bloom upon a flower I like the dust on the nettles, never lost Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.
The final stanza shifts from describing the nettles to reflecting on the passage of time and the inevitability of decay:
Men work together, I told him from the heart, Whether they work together or apart.' Good neighbour. Bad neighbour. He will take no rest Who has a house bit in the wilderness.
Overall, "Tall Nettles" is a meditation on the beauty and resilience of nature, as well as a reminder of the transience of human life and achievement.
Analysis of Themes
One of the most prominent themes in "Tall Nettles" is nature. The poem is set in a field full of tall nettles, and the language Thomas uses to describe them is full of vivid imagery and sensory details. In the first stanza, for example, he describes the nettles as covering up the "rusty harrow," the "plough / Long worn out," and the "roller made of stone." This language creates a sense of the nettles as a powerful force that has overtaken the human artifacts in the field.
The second stanza continues to explore the beauty and resilience of nature. Thomas writes that he likes the corner of the farmyard where the nettles grow "as well as any bloom upon a flower," and he admires the way that the dust on the nettles is "never lost / Except to prove the sweetness of a shower." This language creates a sense of the nettles as a delicate and beautiful part of the natural world, capable of surviving even in difficult conditions.
Another important theme in "Tall Nettles" is time. The poem is full of references to the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. In the first stanza, for example, Thomas describes the plough and the roller as "long worn out," suggesting that they have been in the field for a very long time. The fact that the nettles have grown up around these artifacts reinforces the sense of time passing and things changing.
The final stanza of the poem is particularly focused on time and decay. Thomas writes that "he will take no rest / Who has a house bit in the wilderness," suggesting that even when we try to create something lasting, time and nature will eventually overtake it. This theme is reinforced by the fact that the poem is set in a ruined house, which creates a sense of loss and decay.
Despite the themes of time and decay in "Tall Nettles," the poem also contains a sense of resilience and hope. The fact that the nettles are able to grow up around the ruined house and the old farming equipment suggests that nature has a power and resilience of its own. Additionally, Thomas's language in the second stanza, which describes the nettles as beautiful and delicate, creates a sense of admiration for the natural world.
Finally, the poem's structure itself contributes to this sense of resilience. The fact that the poem is short and contains only three stanzas with four lines each creates a sense of simplicity and efficiency, as if the poem is a small but sturdy structure that can withstand the test of time.
Analysis of Language and Structure
In addition to exploring the themes of the poem, it's important to analyze the language and structure that Thomas uses to create meaning in "Tall Nettles." One of the most noticeable aspects of the poem is its use of vivid imagery and sensory details. Thomas describes the nettles as "tall," "rustling," and "growing" throughout the poem, creating a sense of movement and energy. Additionally, his descriptions of the rusty harrow, the plough, and the roller made of stone create a sense of history and time passing.
Another important aspect of the poem's language is its use of repetition. The phrase "long worn out" appears twice in the first stanza, creating a sense of emphasis and importance. Additionally, the phrase "men work together" appears twice in the final stanza, creating a sense of contrast between cooperation and conflict.
The poem's structure also contributes to its meaning. The fact that it consists of three stanzas with four lines each creates a sense of symmetry and balance. Additionally, the fact that the final stanza is longer than the others creates a sense of weight and importance.
In conclusion, "Tall Nettles" by Edward Thomas is a short but powerful poem that explores themes of nature, time, and resilience. Through vivid imagery and careful language choices, Thomas creates a sense of the nettles as a powerful force that has overtaken human artifacts in the field. Additionally, his descriptions of the nettles and their ability to thrive in difficult conditions create a sense of admiration for the natural world.
At the same time, the poem is also a meditation on the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. The fact that the nettles have grown up around a ruined house and old farming equipment creates a sense of loss and decay. However, the poem also contains a sense of resilience and hope, as Thomas suggests that nature has a power and resilience of its own.
Overall, "Tall Nettles" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that invites readers to reflect on the beauty and complexity of the natural world, as well as the fragility and impermanence of human achievement.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Tall Nettles: An Analysis of Edward Thomas’ Masterpiece
Edward Thomas’ “Tall Nettles” is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the beauty and power of nature. The poem is a perfect example of how a simple observation of nature can inspire a poet to create a work of art that is both beautiful and meaningful. In this article, we will analyze the poem and explore its themes, imagery, and language.
The poem begins with a simple observation of tall nettles growing in a field. The first line, “Tall nettles cover up, as they have done / These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough / Long worn out,” sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The nettles are described as covering up the rusty harrow and plough, which suggests that they are reclaiming the land that was once used for farming. This image of nature reclaiming the land is a common theme in Thomas’ poetry.
The second stanza continues this theme of nature reclaiming the land. The nettles are described as “the only tall things / That [the farmer] has not mowed down.” This suggests that the farmer has tried to control nature by mowing down everything in his path, but the nettles have managed to survive and thrive. This image of the nettles as survivors is a powerful one, and it speaks to the resilience of nature.
The third stanza introduces a new theme: the passage of time. The nettles are described as “A green hedge / That has been there long.” This suggests that the nettles have been growing in this field for a very long time, and that they have witnessed many changes over the years. The image of the nettles as a green hedge is also significant, as it suggests that they are a natural barrier that separates the field from the rest of the world.
The fourth stanza continues the theme of time, but it also introduces a new image: that of the “old stile” that the nettles grow around. This image is significant because it suggests that the nettles have grown up around something that was once important, but that has now been forgotten. The old stile is a symbol of the past, and the nettles are a reminder that the past is always present in the natural world.
The fifth stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem. The nettles are described as “Clinging to their stems the weak / Done to death by the stronger.” This image is a metaphor for the struggle for survival that is a part of nature. The weak are always at the mercy of the strong, and the nettles are a reminder of this harsh reality. However, the image is also a reminder that even the weak can be beautiful and powerful in their own way.
The final stanza brings the poem full circle. The nettles are described as “A sea of greenery” that covers the field. This image is significant because it suggests that the nettles have taken over the field completely. The rusty harrow and plough are now completely covered, and the nettles have become the dominant force in the landscape. This image is a reminder that nature is always changing, and that even the most powerful human creations are no match for the power of nature.
In terms of language, Thomas’ use of imagery is particularly effective. The images of the nettles covering up the rusty harrow and plough, and the old stile that they grow around, are both powerful symbols of the past. The image of the nettles as survivors is also significant, as it suggests that nature will always find a way to survive, even in the face of human destruction.
The language in the poem is also very simple and direct. Thomas does not use complex metaphors or obscure language, but instead relies on simple, straightforward language to convey his message. This simplicity is part of what makes the poem so powerful, as it allows the reader to focus on the imagery and themes without being distracted by complex language.
In conclusion, “Tall Nettles” is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the beauty and power of nature. The poem is a reminder that even the most powerful human creations are no match for the power of nature, and that nature will always find a way to survive. The imagery and language in the poem are both simple and powerful, and they work together to create a work of art that is both beautiful and meaningful.
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