Poetry Analysis: Hide and Seek. (Vernon Scannel)

28 Nov

Hide and Seek is a deep and important message hidden in the detailed description of a familiar childhood game. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and availing the opportunities which life presents one with.

The poem starts with the confident and bold challenge of a child who has chosen a clever place to hide and is sure no one will be able him. One discovers that it is a group of people who are playing Hide and Seek and the boy who had called out is hiding in the shed which is dark and has a salty smell permeating him which reminds him of the seaside. Still in spite the fact that he could be uncomfortable or afraid, he takes comfort in the fact that no one will be able to best him. The poet talks to the boy, giving him advice that he should curl himself so that his feet aren’t visible from behind the sacks of sand he is hiding between; and also cautions him that if he shouts again he will risk drawing attention to his hiding spot. Another difficulty presents itself in the form of the cold floor but it is immediately over ridden by the thought that the children who are seeking the boy will be searching near the bushes, the poet again advises the boy that he must be careful not to sneeze when and if they come searching for him in the tool shed. The seekers do come and the boy hears them mutter and stumble, awing at the fact that the thought of victory has made the usually loud boys quiet and subdued. Listening to the series of rapid commands which follow the boy freezes, holds his breathe and shuts his eyes close hoping that they won’t find him. Sure enough, the voices fade as they move away not believing the boy would dare hide in the tool shed, as it was probably considered off limits to children.
Even when the boys move away from the shed, the boy doesn’t come out, reveling in the fact that they will keep searching and wondering where he was, all the while marveling at his cleverness. A long time passes since they had departed and the boy grows uncomfortable, cold, stiff and suffocated. He then finally decides that it is time to reveal that he has won. He comes out of his hiding place and departs the shed, calling out to his friends to proclaim him the winner. But to his dismay he finds the garden empty and quite. All the children have given up and gone home. The same voice of the poet who was advising him throughout now turns on him and asks where his so called friends are who were supposed to be looking for him.

A few literary devices highlight and add color to the poem: Alliteration is used in the second line: ‘smell like the seaside’ of the letters L and S. Going on blindness is personified as a safe house where the boy seeks sanctuary. Also in the end, a series of personified phrases: ‘The darkening garden watches.’ ‘The bushes hold their breathe’ describe the quite of the scene.

The poem not just about a childhood game but it is about life. The difficulties which the boy faces after deciding to hide in the shed are metaphorically used for the obstructions one has to deal with while walking down the road one chooses in life. But the boy’s determination to win and succeed enables him to be strong enough to overcome all these difficulties. Also the other boys are the competitors which one has to deal with in life. They are described as ‘prowling’ like as if they were predatory animals waiting to strike on their prey when it is unaware. Such are the problems life throws one’s way, but if, like the little boy, one has an predetermined aim in mind, it is not difficult to pull through despite them.

Then another message; that of making the maximum use of any and all opportunities that life and luck bless one with is conveyed in the last few lines. The boy could have enjoyed the thrill of a glamorous victory which would have been ample compensation for enduring through all the frightening aspects of the toolshed; had he came out and declared his presence when the seekers turned away from its doorstep. But he procrastinated; hoping that his delay would put the other children in awe of his brilliant hiding spot and earn him more glory as the victor, only to find out that his continued absence had made them lose interest and move on leaving him alone and disappointed.

Thus is a very important message conveyed in a light and interesting manner, through a detailed description of a generally popular childhood game.


Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Analysis of Poems.



16 responses to “Poetry Analysis: Hide and Seek. (Vernon Scannel)

  1. Amelia

    June 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    wow good analysis very interesting and useful thank you

  2. Emmy

    October 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    This is a very good and thoughtful piece, however I do know that it would be better if some of the “one”s you used were instead replaced with “we”s. As an english teacher, I do of course understand the temptation to fluff up our writing but sometimes it can come across as pretentious. Otherwise very good, keep it up!!

  3. Sandra

    October 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Please stop saying “one” when it is not needed, it makes the writing sound awkward. Otherwise this is an incredible and deep piece which gives a greater insight into the thoughts and intentions of Scannel when first writing this poem. Well done and keep writing!

  4. Qasim

    December 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    suburb story but i need more analysis about telephone conservation by wole soyink , hide and seek by vernon scannel and piano by dh lawerence

  5. Liam

    May 9, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Could it be during the war and the boy has been told to hide however he thinks it is a game because he is only an innocent child?

    • har33m

      December 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      If that is the interpretation you are going with, explain how the last two lines make sense. Why would the boy be actively searching for his pursuers?

  6. visna samadhi

    June 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    it is really important.can get a good knowledge through this

    • visna samadhi

      June 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      yes ofcourse

  7. WAleed

    March 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    IT i a very good analysis but i want analysis for Once Upon a Time By Gabriel Okara, IF By Rudyard Kipling.

  8. Prince Marcel

    April 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    You guys are very good. a very good analysis thank you very much. But I need analysis of the poem Half past two

    • har33m

      April 24, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      You’re welcome, I’m glad I could help!
      As for the analysis, I’ll try to put it up in a few days. It’s just I have a lot of things going on right now and there’s no time. But I realize you’ll probably need it for your O levels so I’ll try to make some time for the few poems remaining.

  9. Sophie.R

    January 21, 2015 at 2:05 am

    Hi an analysis of Out Out- by Robert Frost would be incredibly helpful!!

  10. ErnieM.

    March 9, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    if someone could explain me briefly vernon’s style of writing it would really help me for an exam and a very helpful analysis by the way thanks.=)

  11. aaliyan cool

    November 1, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    it helped me a lot i appreciate it thanx same like

  12. lee

    March 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    very good analysis…. gives the reader a much better picture of the poem. thnx

  13. Dave

    April 2, 2016 at 7:32 am

    The poem works on two levels. On the surface it describes an ostensibly innocent game of hide and seek, one that we played both as kids and probably as parents with our own children. On closer scansion the poem works at a deeper level. Hide and seek becomes a game of life, one that may not necessarily have a happy ending. Hiding from people perhaps for too long and we suddenly find ourselves bereft, Just one notion hidden away in the jungle of imagery.


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