Nettles and Manhunt

Table of Content

The speaker shares a deep connection with their three-year-old son, demonstrating a strong sense of protectiveness towards him. They express concern over their son’s delicate skin and take proactive measures to combat the nettles that pose harm to him. The speaker conscientiously devises a plan to eradicate the nettles, viewing it as their upcoming endeavor.

The subject of the text is a small vulnerable boy who seeks comfort from his father. The description of “blisters beaded” suggests the harshness of his tender skin. Initially, the speaker manages to get rid of the nettles, but the ending implies that he will not always be able to protect his child. The line “My son would often feel sharp wounds again” conveys a sense of sad acceptance.

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Extended Metaphor

The speaker’s response to the physical pain inflicted by the nettles is likened to a battle, where the nettles represent the enemy soldiers referred to as the ‘regiment of spite’.

The extended metaphor illustrates the father’s protective nature as he intentionally decides to eliminate the nettles – ‘I took my hook and honed the blade’ (L9). The use of assonance and alliteration elongates the rhythm to portray the careful planning he devoted to seeking vengeance. It further demonstrates the boy’s vulnerability through phrases like ‘sobs and tears’ and ‘blisters beaded,’ emphasizing that his father cannot always be by his side.


‘Imagery’ includes phrases such as ‘green spears’, ‘regiment of spite’, ‘fierce parade’, ‘funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead’, and ‘tall recruits’.

The Manhunt
The speaker describes the relationship as one filled with passion and intimacy. The subjects are loved and cherished, referred to as delicate and precious with a porcelain collar-bone and parachute silk. The speaker uses verbs like explore, trace, mind, and attend to portray a gentle and caring approach.

The subject is scared and hesitant to allow the speaker in, describing themselves as “tightened and closed”. It takes time and patience to overcome this fear, as emphasized by the repetition of “only then”. However, the speaker eventually manages to get close to the subject, ending on a positive note with the phrase “did I come close”.

Extended Metaphor

Emotional damage is likened to a set of bodily injuries. The extended metaphor adeptly illustrates the true emotional anguish experienced by the individual as it is concealed within their mind, and the wound and resultant scarring resemble an invincible metal fetus. The speaker’s struggle to connect with this person is conveyed through the multiple verbs employed, which signify their persistence and genuine concern, as well as the repetition that highlights the extensive duration it took to reach them.

Development of the imagery in the text suggests a physical battle and pain. Words/phrases such as ‘blown hinge’, ‘damaged’, ‘fractured’, ‘bullet’ and ‘unexploded mine’ convey this theme.

The poem “Hour” is structured into three quatrains and a couplet. It explores the theme of romantic love and follows the rhyme scheme abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Additionally, each line is written in iambic pentameter, containing five pairs of stressed and unstressed syllables. The final couplet serves as a conclusion, summarizing the overall ideas presented in the poem.

Duffy utilizes the sonnet form to create a smooth and reflective depiction of their love and the passing of time. Yet, she deviates from traditional sonnet conventions by dividing the poem into three quatrains and a couplet. This choice breaks away from the norm of having one single stanza in a sonnet.

Furthermore, her inclusion of half rhymes serves to mirror the imperfect nature of their love, which is limited by time.

The poet suggests that ‘time despises love, want love impoverished’. This implies that the individuals in the poem are running short of time to experience love. As time progresses, it becomes increasingly challenging to love due to the rapidly diminishing minutes. This signifies an eternal rivalry between time and love, as they strive to nullify each other.

Love relies on time to sustain itself, gradually waning like a beggar in need.

The poem “Praise song for my mother” is a heartfelt expression of the narrator’s profound and limitless love for her mother. The word “fathoming” is used to highlight the incomprehensible and boundless quality of this love, comparing it to the immense depth of the ocean.

The poem evokes emotions through the use of past tense, specifically with the phrase ‘you were’. This choice suggests that the speaker now feels a sense of longing for her mother, indicating that something may have happened – such as her passing or a shift in their relationship.

Extended metaphor

The entire poem is steeped in metaphors, with each stanza beautifully illustrating this technique. For instance, in the line ‘You were water to me,’ Grace Nichols is describing the profound importance of her mother to her life, drawing a parallel between the necessity of water for survival and the character’s need for her mother.


In each stanza, the repetition of the phrase ‘you were’ suggests that the mother may have passed away.

The poem explores the character’s deep connection with her mother, as indicated by the use of the term ‘fathoming’ to express her boundless love. Furthermore, the word ‘mantling’ conveys her perception of her mother as a caring and protective presence.


Main themes: Love, Separation, Forbidden or impossible love.

Traditionally, Ghazals were spiritual or religious poems that used the beloved as a metaphor for God. The love expressed in a Ghazal is written from the perspective of a lover who considers it to be out of reach or unattainable.

This Ghazal delves into the theme of all-consuming love. The poet suggests that even though her lover may possess a forceful and aggressive nature, she willingly embraces it by proclaiming, ‘if yours the iron fist in the velvet glove when the arrow flies the heart is pierced, tattoo me.’ By relating the imagery of an iron fist and a soft glove with boxing, one can infer that she avows a submissive disposition, eagerly welcoming any cruel treatment from her beloved as long as it ensures their unity. She would rather endure a pierced heart than endure a life without her lover.

The character perceives the love as out of reach, but still refuses to relinquish it because it holds immense value to them. They declare, “Be heaven and earth to me and I’ll be twice the me I am, if only half the world you are to me.” This intense love and attachment compel them to make implausible promises, longing to be with their utmost desire. They liken their love to “heaven,” symbolizing its significance and superiority by comparing it to something beyond this world.

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Nettles and Manhunt. (2016, Nov 06). Retrieved from

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