How does the poet bring the subject matter “to life” to the reader? The poem shows that the child is just starting out in life, and as the poem progresses, he learns something new about it; that he is actually vulnerable in the real world. The poet manages to bring the subject matter to life by using a set of language and structure that intensifies the reader’s participation in the poem. As seen, the poem consists of only one, long stanza, which simply creates the vision of a flow of ideas.
Through this structure we are able to see that one idea directly links to another, instead of the usual separation of thoughts by the use of various stanzas. The single stanza also transmits to the reader the way the child behaves in the poem: he remains still through most of it, giving the idea of a static situation and a continuous flow of the feelings and emotions the child goes through.
The poet manages to intensify the connection reader-child by using a wide variety of language techniques and constantly referring to the reader as “you”.
This first technique enables the poet to ensure that the reader is inside the poem, continually being affected by the actions that take place.
By referring to the audience as “you”, he slots the reader into the situation, by making them the child of the poem. This means that he manages to intensify the feelings and emotions, and to transmit the actions that take place. The continuous use of adjectives, adverbs, and even personification helps the reader to capture a better image of the situation. The sacks in the tool shed smell like the countryside”, “And here they are, whispering at the door”, and “Someone stumbles, mutters” are examples of the use of different word groups that tell the reader exactly what he is hearing, smelling, doing,…
This increases the attention of the reader, and strengthens the link between them and the child. The poet also uses a variety of personification, to give a more lively view to the poem. This manages to bring the subject matter to life. The bushes hold their breath”: this sentence informs the reader that there is hardly any wind outside, and that everything is still, unmovable, quiet… It grabs once more the attention of the reader, and brings the game to life. The mood of the poem is the confidence, in the child, that decreases throughout the game. The changing mood enables the poet to gain a positive and active response from the reader, who is grabbed into the poem, into the situation.
The confidence can be seen to deteriorate, as at the beginning: “They’ll never find you in this salty dark”, the child is anxious to see how the game develops, and to eventually win it. However, at the end, he notices that the game is not important at all: “Where are those who sought you? ” Here we can see that the child has a growing fear towards the real world, and that he learns an important lesson: ‘They’ have left him. He is aware that he is not the centre of the universe anymore, and that one day he has to fend for himself and the world won’t necessarily be a nice place when you’re out there on your own. Hide and Seek’ goes from a child’s game to fending for himself and from him being the centre of the universe to the world that doesn’t revolve around him anymore.
The poet makes use of one of the activities which all children have experienced to, through a metaphor, make it easier for the reader to understand the changing situation, that goes from a child-like world to the real, crueller world. This enables the poem to be shown as lively and brings the subject matter to life for the reader.