Choose two or more poems, which deal with childhood experiences. Show how they are successful in expressing their chosen theme. Comment particularly on writers’ techniques, as well as the social context of the poems. I have chosen to compare the poems ‘Hide and Seek’ by Vernon Scannell and ‘Leaving School’ by Hugo Williams. Both ‘Hide and Seek’ and ‘Leaving School’ are very alike in the sense that their themes concentrate on childhood experiences and the main characters are eventually overcome with feelings of realisation.
Vernon Scannell and Hugo Williams use some similar writing techniques to convey their chosen themes. Brief sentences are used in both poems to give a feeling of urgency. In ‘Hide and Seek’, the boy gives himself several sets of commands. Using short snappy sentences he tells himself ‘Don’t breathe’, ‘Don’t move,’ ‘Stay dumb’. Sentences like these are often used to boost the pace of the poem, making it increasingly rapid, creating a sense of seriousness which then engages the reader’s attention.
Shorter sentences are also used to stand out in the middle of lots of enjambment. Just a simple sentences like, ‘They had the Beacon Series’ stands out more than any other sentence in the second stanza of ‘Leaving School’, as it is very concise making it even more effective. Unlike ‘Leaving School’, ‘Hide and Seek’ is made up of mostly shorter sentences, which may add to the suspense of the poem and at times, slowing down the pace. ‘Leaving School’ however is mostly made up of enjambment, which keeps the boy’s thoughts flowing and adds to the conversational tone.
This is more like an account than a poem. In both poems, the boys started off with high expectations. The boy in ‘Leaving School’ was young and nai?? ve, he thought that going to boarding school was almost like a game; he ‘thought it was going to be fun’. Similarly in ‘Hide and seek’ the boy thought that that it was just an innocent game that he was involved in and a game that he thought he was winning. He lacked the emotional sophistication to realise that he was being tricked.
He is blind to the reality of the situation and comments that he ‘had never heard them sound so hushed before’ but fails to realise that they are ‘hushed’ because they have actually found him and plan to leave him there. The sense of euphoria in the boy, when he shouts ‘I’ve won’ is contrasted with the silence that he encounters when he comes out of the shed at the end of the poem. Both children were subsequently to experience alienation and a degree of trauma. ‘Hide and Seek’ is about a young boy playing a game of hide and seek with what he thinks are his friends.
He is hiding in a ‘tool shed’ in a garden. He knows that the other children will ‘try the lane and then the greenhouse’ to find him, which suggests the boy lives in the area, as he is familiar with the surroundings. In ‘Leaving School’ the boy is very unfamiliar with his surroundings. He was found by ‘The headmaster’s wife… walking around upstairs’, which suggests that he was unable to find his own way around. The environment he is living in has very rigid rules unlike the rules of a game like hide and seek.