The experiences of being a child are explored in many ways in the poems 'Hide and Seek' and 'Half-Past Two.'

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Poetry Coursework Essay

The experiences of being a child are explored in many ways in the poems ‘Hide and Seek’ and ‘Half-Past Two.’ In both cases one of the poet’s main themes is the investigation of how we used to perceive things as children, this is particularly highlighted by the specific use of language. This is again stressed by both the poets taking a child’s stream of consciousness as a way of showing the inner depths of a child’s thoughts. There is however a subtle difference in the way that the child’s perspective of life is being depicted, because in ‘Half Past Two’ it is as an adult taking the poetic voice of his inner child, this is in contrast to ‘Hide and Seek’ where the poetic voice is the child’s own thoughts: a truer stream of consciousness technique.

Both the poems contemplate the concerns and stresses of being a child, predominantly the turmoil and confusion that a child faces everyday. These are however also vehicles used by the poets to emphasise the greater social forces that are present everyday from childhood to adulthood. The children are symbols of the oppression that we face, like the child in ‘Hide and Seek’ when his friends abandon him. This is undeniably shown by the isolation felt by the child in both the poems. This is paradigmatic of how people feel as part of a society: alone and secluded.

There is a strong contrast between the way Scannell and Fanthorpe present the experience of being a child. Fanthorpe chooses to focus on the ordinary experiences of being a child, whereas Scannell tries to bring out more physical factors like the sense of touch. Fanthorpe’s concern of giving a ‘voice to the voiceless’ is demonstrated by her focusing on a child with only nascent linguistic skills, because it shows how she facilitates the voiceless.

Some people may think that one of the main themes that are seen throughout ‘Half Past Two’ is a child’s preconception of time and the child’s inability to comprehend it. Both poems encapsulate the children’s feelings of vulnerability and fright. We can see that the root of the child’s confusion and ultimate despair is his lack of discrimination between ‘Le Temp’ objective time and ‘La Duree’ which is subjective time, this is highlighted in the following lines:

“Once upon a school time/ he did Something Very Wrong/(I forgot what it was)”

The use of the words ‘Once upon a school time’ is vital in echoing the familiar world of ‘fairy stories’ that is a quintessential experience of every childhood. This shows us that the boy identifies with subjective time but is not familiar with the ‘alien’ objective time, which is the constraint by which adult life takes place. The capitalisation of the word ‘Something’ demonstrates the seriousness of the predicament, it can also be used to stress the torrent of thoughts that passes through the child once it has recognised that it has made a mistake, but yet it is not capable of rectifying the situation.

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The rebuke and belittlement by the teacher who is in a position of command shows us the harsh existence of being a child.

“And She said he’d done / Something Very Wrong and must/ stay in the schoolroom till half past two.”

The capitalisation focuses on the harshness of the teacher’s voice, which leads to the innocent and ignorant child feeling abashed and ashamed. The criticism of the child has greater reverberations than just in the classroom; it symbolises the way that the weak are treated in the social hierarchy. This is specifically highlighted by the ...

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