The comparison between the strength of nature and that of man-made objects is made all
the time. Many things built in our time are based off of the complexities of similar structures
found in nature and we try to use stronger materials to improve upon their functionality. As a
result, humans believe that the structures we create are superior to the “lesser” things in nature.
Edward Thomas uses a two stanza poem to reflect on the simple beauty of nature and the way
that it will last past the man made objects of our creation. Tall Nettles effectively compares the
unseemly weeds to be stronger than stone and just as beautiful as the flowers that bloom
The poem begins with a strong title, Tall Nettles. The positive connotation associated
with tall brings me to the assumption that Thomas thinks highly of the nettles even though they
are poisonous weeds. The height of ...view middle of the document...
Only the wisdom of the
elm is able to top the nettles in this farmyard and it keeps the theme of nature as the champion.
This is an important comparison because it shows the balance that nature provides. Elms are seen
as providing foundation to great forests around the world and the mention of this tree proves the
point of nature withstanding the test of time long past that of simple harrows, ploughs and
The second stanza leaves the man-made aspect of the piece behind and only focuses on
the beauty of the nettles. In line 6, the nettles are compared as beautiful as the bloom of any
flower, even though they are weeds; meant to take over the whole garden. The last two lines of
the piece solidify the speaker’s stance about nature. Line 7 uses personal pronouns to state the
speaker’s affection of the dust that rests on the nettles - showing that they remain untouched and
are being left to grow and thrive. The final line expresses this thought in another way; the
positive connotation surrounding the “sweetness of a shower”. The only way the dust is ever
disturbed off the nettles is if it starts to rain, which helps them grow.
The rhyming scheme within “Tall Nettles” seems simple at first glance. Thomas kept a
consistent abab scheme throughout the two stanzas which provides a soothing effect. All the
rhymes are played on the “o” sound which implies both wonder and joy. This aspect of the
rhymes adds to the tone of the poem as a whole and makes one look at the nettles through a
different lens. The untidy nature of the nettles is also shown through the imperfect rhymes in
done/stone and most/lost. At first glance, these look like pure matches, but when said aloud,
don’t exactly rhyme. This could be a comparison to how the nettles do not grow in an
immaculate fashion which is what humans aim for when they make things.
Tall Nettles is a lightning fast look at a corner in a random farmyard and Edward Thomas
makes it very clear what he wants you to see. His poetry is bathed in imagery that demonstrates
the power of nature and its perseverance through time.