Vernon Scannell

Vernon Scannell Poems

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
...

They should not have left him there alone,
Alone that is except for the cat.
He was only nine, not old enough
To be left alone in a basement flat,
...

The unrelated paragraphs of morning
Are forgotten now; the severed heads of kings
Rot by the misty Thames; the roses of York
And Lancaster are pressed between the leaves
...

That one small boy with a face like pallid cheese
And burnt-out little eyes could make a blaze
As brazen, fierce and huge, as red and gold
And zany yellow as the one that spoiled
...

And now another autumn morning finds me
With chalk dust on my sleeve and in my breath,
Preoccupied with vague, habitual speculation
On the huge inevitability of death.
...

They did not expect this. Being neither wise nor brave
And wearing only the beauty of youth's season
They took the first turning quite unquestioningly
And walked quickly without looking back even once.
...

Unlovely city, to which few tourists come
With squinting cameras and alien hats;
Left under a cloud by those who love the sun
And can afford to marry – a cloud of bits
...

Sleepless I lay last night and watched the slow
Procession of the men who wear my clothes:
First, the grey man with bloodshot eyes and sly
Gestures miming what he loves and loathes.
...

THE SENTENCE

Perhaps I can make it plain by analogy.
Imagine a machine, not yet assembled,
...

Waiting for her in the usual bar
He finds she's late again.
Impatience frets at him,
But not the fearful, half-sweet pain he knew
...

The bar he went inside was not
A place he often visited;
He welcomed anonymity;
No one to switch inquisitive
...

Silver Wedding

The party is over and I sit among
The flotsam that its passing leaves,
...

The naked hunter's fist, bunched round his spear,
Was tight and wet inside with sweat of fear;
He heard behind him what the hunted hear.
...

It is a curious experience
And one you"re bound to know, though probably
In other realms than that of literature,
Though I speak of poems now, assuming
...

He killed his wife at night.
He had tried once or twice in the daylight
But she refused to die.
...

The appetite which leads him to her bed
Is not unlike the lust of boys for cake
Except he knows that after he has fed
He'll suffer more than simple belly-ache.
...

A quarter of a century ago
I hung the gloves up, knew I'd had enough
Of taking it and trying to dish it out,
...

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more. And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.
...

The unrelated paragraphs of morning
Are forgotten now; the severed heads of kings
Rot by the misty Thames; the roses of York
And Lancaster are pressed between the leaves
Of history; Negroes sleep in Africa.
The complexities of simple interest lurk
In inkwells and the brittle sticks of chalk:
Afternoon is come and English Grammar.

Rain falls as though the sky has been bereaved,
Stutters its inarticulate grief on glass
Of every lachrymose pane. The children read
Their books or make pretence of concentration,
Each bowed head seems bent in supplication
Or resignation to the fate that waits
In the unmapped forests of the future.
Is it their doomed innocence noon weeps for?

In each diminutive breast a human heart
Pumps out the necessary blood: desires,
Pains and ecstasies surf-ride each singing wave
Which breaks in darkness on the mental shores.
Each child is disciplined; absorbed and still
At his small desk. Yet lift the lid and see,
Amidst frayed books and pencils, other shapes:
Vicious rope, glaring blade, the gun cocked to kill.
...

Silver Wedding

The party is over and I sit among
The flotsam that its passing leaves,
The dirty glasses and fag-ends:
Outside, a black wind grieves.

Two decades and a half of marriage;
It does not really seem as long,
Of youth's ebullient song.

David, my son, my loved rival,
And Julia, my tapering daughter,
Now grant me one achievement only;
I turn their wine to water.

And Helen, partner of all these years,
Helen, my spouse, my sack of sighs,
Reproaches me for every hurt
With injured, bovine eyes.

There must have been passion once, I grant,
But neither she nor I could bear
To have its ghost come prowling from
Its dark and frowsy lair.

And we, to keep our nuptials warm,
Still wage sporadic war;
Numb with insult each yet strives
To scratch the other raw.

Twenty-five years we've now survived;
I'm not sure either why or how
As I sit with a wreath of quarrels set
On my tired and balding brow.
...

The Best Poem Of Vernon Scannell

Nettles

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
'Bed' seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more. And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.


Submitted by Andrew Mayers

Vernon Scannell Comments

Betsy Hosegood 21 October 2013

Please add A Day on the River, which is fabulous.

8 18 Reply
Malcolm Wakeman 20 April 2014

'Nettles ' An original and perceptive work, finding the philosophical in the prosaic. What father would not have cut down the nettles and not reflected on his son's future.

8 18 Reply
Do you Mind 11 February 2016

Hope your well. I was wondering if anyone can help you with your own virus check the address of Last year.

6 13 Reply
I do mind 10 May 2018

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13 4 Reply
Ali-A 26 September 2018

i love fortnite and my videos are 100% clickbait :)

8 9 Reply
Sohail Akhter 21 April 2022

Who is the copyright owner for this poem?

0 0 Reply
Peter morris 22 January 2022

Great poetry

0 0 Reply

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2 2 Reply
ali-c 25 November 2019

I like FORTNITE AND MY VIDEOS ARE 101% percent click bait

4 3 Reply

Great poems especially nettles PPL WHO LIKE FORTNITE ARE SAD

2 2 Reply

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