Hide and Seek
Ion the poem Hide and Seek, Vernon Scannell makes excellent use of all the sense to bring out the great excitement children usually experience whenever they play this ever- green game. The fact that short sentences are used in rapid succession and that the poem seems to have been written in one short stanza also contribute to this feeling. The persona is the one being sought, so he hides himself in the toolshed at the bottom of the garden making sure that his feet “aren’t sticking out”.
The place smells salty because of the sacks of sand and both the floor and air feel damp and cold. As the seekers draw stealthily close, the poet is almost afraid to breathe and automatically closes his eyes as if by doing so, it would be difficult for his friends to find him. Time passes, the poet feels stiff, cold and uncomfortable so he decides to come out of his hiding place only to find that the other children have long abandoned the search and left him alone in the dark shed. “The bushes hold their breath: the sun is gone. Yes here you are. But where are they who sought you?
”?Although this poem is basically a poem about childhood recollections, a moral can still be learnt form it: namely that in life, when success seems to be within easy reach, we should not allow ourselves to feel too over-confident as we might end up losing all and feeling bitterly disappointed. Diction (The writer’s choice of words) The poem starts with the imperative verb ‘call’. Examples of words in the imperative are ‘ call out’ ‘call loud’ ‘be careful’, ‘don’t breathe’, ‘don’t move’, ‘stay dumb’, ‘hide’, ‘push pff’, ‘uncurl’, ‘stretch’, ‘come and own up’.
In the poem, these words/verbs in the imperative form are very important because they are showing the expertise of this boy at play in this well-loved game. It is almost as if the boy is instructing the reader as to how we should play the game as well as we possible can, in order not to be caught. In “be careful that your feet aren’t sticking out” the young persona/the young child is giving us readers a good piece of advice – he wants to make sure that he makes the search for him a very difficult one. This shows that he wanted to be the winner at all costs. This shows that he wants to be the winner at all costs.
In fact, in the next line, “Wiser not to risk another shout. ” The boy is again giving advice, showing that the risk of being caught is very much possible since his friends might be close by. The adjective ‘cold’ is repeated twice in the poem, whilst we also have the word ‘damp’ to show the discomfort that the boy was feeling. In this poem we also have words like, ‘musn’t sneeze’, ‘whispering’, ‘hushed’, ‘dumb’, ‘mutters’ and all the words show the excitement felt by the boy, when he was being sought by his friends, he tries to avoid any sort of noise, even going as far to say, ‘don’t breathe’.
There is only one stanza in this poem and there are four instances of rhyming couplets, ‘out’ and ‘shout’, ‘door’ and ‘before’, ‘land’ and again’ and ‘coat’ and ‘throat’. The fact that there is little rhyme in thus poem is indicative of the excitement being felt by the boy as he lies in hiding. The poem is very rich in figures of speech. From the very first line we find alliteration of the letter/consonant ’c’. This alliteration almost makes the call of the boy even more audible in our minds and it also gives the poem a certain vibrant feeling from the very start.
We also have alliteration in the second line, ‘sacks in the toolshed smell like the seaside’’ with the letter/consonant ‘s’ and the effect that this creates is very much like the sound of the sea upon the shore, bringing about the olfactory image of the sea to mind. The soothing sound effect created by the alliteration of the letter ‘s ‘ brings to mind a feeling of calmness and serenity; a feeling that is extended in the following line when the persona says, ‘they’ll never find you in this salty dark’ meaning that he is calm because he knows that he is safe.
The alliteration of the letter/consonants in ‘sound so’ almost enables us readers to hear the low voices and the increasing silence as the tension mounts. The alliteration of the consonant ‘d’ in ‘don’t breathe’ and ‘don’t move’ brings out the sense of urgency and heightened excitement felt/experienced by the boy. We also have alliteration in ‘dark damp’, ‘smell of sand’ and in both these instances it is the alliteration of the letter ‘s’ which makes us almost feel the coarseness of the sand in the young child’s throat.
The poem is also rich in personification where inanimate objects are being human qualities. For example: ‘cold bites’ this figure of speech makes us realize just how cold and uncomfortable this boy was feeling as he lay on the cold floor. The personification ‘darkening garden watches’ shows that the only thing greeting our winner in a dark garden, whilst in the next line, ‘the bushes hold their breath’ this personification not only reminds us of the effort done by the boy in order to avoid those who sought him, but also portrays the silence that surrounds the boy once he emerged from his hiding place.
The very last in the poem sums up the disappoint felt by the persons, as soon as he realizes that all his friends had abandoned the search long before. Indeed the feeling is one of bitter disappointment and although this is basically a poem about childhood recollections, a moral can still be learnt from it, namely that in life, when success seems to be within easy reach, we should not allow ourselves to feel over- confident as we might end up be losing everything and feeling completely empty, and disillusioned losers. Theme of childhood