We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated hear
Till someone really find us out.
‘Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.
But so with all, from babes that play
At hid-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.
This poem is about people who are coy (tease and flout) and expect their friends to be mindreaders. Perhaps my feelings are hurt when loved ones can’t see through all the games and perceive who I really am and what I’m trying to say. It’s a pity, *or so we say.* BUT it’s not a pity, really; in other words, it’s not my friends’ fault. It’s my own fault because I’ve hidden myself too completely from them. In hide-and-seek, this means ollie ollie oxen free. Forget it, the game is over. Spiritually, it means it’s up to God to reveal Himself. If He’s a God of riddles — a silent, distant, inscrutable God (God afar) — it’s no wonder we can’t “find” Him and connect with Him the way He expects us to. If He really wants to be known for who He is, He should speak plainly.
Some people have a hard time revealing who they really are, to their own hurt.
this poem is about lying about are selves and then are true colors being shown…afterwARDS…we are left with nothing but our own body, mind and soul..
This poem carries the same Frostian theme that of extinction, isolation and break in relation. The poet, “the seeker”, loses his friends, “the hiders”, in this life that resembles “hide and seek” and is all alone, desperately searching his friends, those departed, in hope that they might speak and apprise where they are.
actually there are no typos in this poem. that is how the poem was written. everyone should know that.
O.K. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the bottom of this one yet, but I have a feeling that this poem is more about the seeker than the hider. The surface reading is that, yes, we create personas for ourselves, and therefore alienate ourselves from each other (“a place apart…afar…away”). Also, the speaker says that in the end, those of us who are too good at concealing ourselves are forced to “speak and tell us where they are.” However, I think Frost thinks it unfortunate that the hider must give himself away. Think about hide and seek. The fun of the game is the power struggle, the difficulty of finding a good hider. What happens though, when someone is too good at hiding? The seeker says, “I give up. Where are you?” Unless the hider wants to be abandoned and left completely alone, he is forced to yell out, “I’m in the closet.” This ruins the game, and takes away that exciting moment for both players when the discovery is made (the revelation!). The same goes for our personas. If we are always stating our literal feelings to try to “inspire the understanding of a friend,” we are giving away our hiding places. The true joy in relationships is when we don’t just give ourselves away, but we are found “really out.” In other words, the moment of revelation can never happen if the hiders out themselves, and the seekers quit seeking. The same goes for God, this poem, and all mysteries. They hide themselves behind metaphor, for when the true seekers find them out, they are blessed with the bliss of revelation.
I like the comments on this one. May I also recommend Frost’s “Reluctance” to you? This poem reminds me of the Beatles’ song, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” but it seems to contradict that title; the truth will out, and love will reveal and declare itself — or so we wish. I do not hear triumph in this claim, just hopefulness. To “find us really out” is a great phrase, with its surprising, hopeful, stress on “really.” Sadly, such opportunities to really find an “agitated heart” fail to prosper in many cases, and this reflection prevents my judging the poem naive.
The second stanza’s abstract, academic, or legalistic structure, as a proposition (!) in a “case,” demonstrates one way of hiding and avoiding connection. The “pity” that such a heart may need to literally say, “I love you” rings playfully and ironically for me, but the “Must speak…” may only be a condition for ending loneliness rather than an innate pressure or compulsion. In the ambiguity of Frost’s intention, as I read it, and in his call for us to identify with both the hider and the finder, that I find a connection to personal doubts. I am grateful for the understanding of a friend, and that may be the deepest need of the heart.
Two typos need fixed in the poem.
1st. section third line should read
“But oh, the agitated heart”
3rd section second line should read
“At hide-and-seek to God afar,”
This poem is so powerful. At first glance it may be confusing to understand what Frost is conveying, but I believe that he is conveying many of us, especially Americans. We hide behind different facades, or personas, and pretend to be people who we are not. Really, on the inside, we want others to know us though- by the “agitated heart” line. We have to tell others where we are though, who we are, what we truly think- especially if we are very good at hiding (see the third stanza)