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Piano - D.H Lawrence

Summary:

  • The poem is symbolic of the poem’s narrative. It is symbolic of D H Lawrence’s childhood. The poem is about the writer recollecting memories of his childhood and his mother.

  • The writer is weeping as he’s upset that he’s unable to make more memories with his mother.

Themes:

  • Nostalgia

  • Loss- the poem is an elegy to some extent

  • Memory

  • Childhood

  • Family

  • Power of music

  • Masculinity

Effect on the reader:

  • The writer appeals to the readers’ senses with the ‘cosy parlour’ and ‘tinkling piano’.

  • The writer creates an uncomfortable image when he describes himself, a grown man, breaking down into tears after he remembers his mother when he listens to the song.

Structure:

  • Quatrains- three stanzas of four lines each; first two stanzas talk about the past, the third looks at the present.

  • Rhyming couplets- patterned, regular rhyme scheme (AABB rhyme scheme). This gives the poem a musical tone which can be associated with the theme and title of the poem.

  • Enjambment- ‘flood of memory’

  • Lawrence utilises a trochaic structure, stressing the first syllable of each line. This causes the effect of a song, but dissimilar to the rhythm caused by an iambic pentameter.

  • Trochaic meter stresses the first syllable in each line, while iambic pentameter stresses the second. Both of these forms create a song-like rhythm similar to a hymn or more specifically a nursery rhyme. Because Lawrence is recollecting his childhood, this poem’s rhythmic similarity to a nursery rhyme connects the reader to their own childhood memories.

Imagery:

  • ‘Vista of years’- the imagery here highlights the beautiful memories he is about to revisit.

  • “A child sitting under the piano”

  • “Mother who smiles as she sings”- happy image

  • “With winter outside...the tinkling piano our guide”

Language:

  • ‘Softly,’- gentle atmosphere, the tenderness of music here contrasts with the end of the poem when the poet is in tears.

  • ‘Taking me back down’- highlights the power of song/music as the poet is instantly transported and lost in his memories.

  • The poet refers to himself as ‘a child’. The use of third-person here illustrates the distance he feels- the poet feels different now as a grown man. However, later in the poem, the poet says ‘I weep like a child’. The irony is present here to highlight that he is still as vulnerable as he was when he was a child.

  • ‘Boom’, ‘tingling’- the use of onomatopoeic sounds shares how real his memories feel to him.

  • ‘Poised’, ‘smiles’- describes his mother in a graceful manner.

  • ‘Smiles’ ‘sings’- the use of sibilance creates a soothing tone which helps highlight the positive image of his mother. It also emphasises the comfort he had felt around his mother.

  • ‘In spite of myself,’- tells us that he doesn’t want to think about his mother.

  • ‘Insidious’- he refers to the music as evil highlighting his discomfort when thinking about his mother, ‘Betrays’. This highlights the power of song.

  • ‘Betrays me back’- alliteration here highlights his discomfort when thinking about his mother.

  • ‘The heart of me weeps’- personification highlight the great sadness he feels.

  • ‘Winter outside’, ‘cosy parlour’- contrast here emphasises security and comfort that family provides.

  • ‘Hymns’- theological language- religious/ wholesome

  • ‘Tinking’- onomatopoeic sounds highlight how gentle and soothing his family were.

  • ‘Piano our guide’- highlights how simple and uncomplicated his life was.

  • ‘Black piano appassionato’- the plosives- hammering of the strings- mirrors how Lawrence is at the peak of his emotions.

  • ‘Flood of remembrance’- figurative language- symbolic of tears. It also laments his loss of childhood innocence.

  • ‘Weep like a child’- simile- loss of masculinity. It creates an uncomfortable image as it ends in a sombre tone.

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