The passing of time in an individual’s life is filled with various phases. The poem “Piano” by D.H. Lawrence is a complicated example of how a poet might think. The speaker in “Piano” is happy to be a full grown male, yet he likes remembering his happy childhood; his sentimental mindset triggers him to feel guilty as if he had betrayed his present state of being. Through efficient images, Lawrence is able (to describe an image) to assist the reader understand the speaker’s classic mindset.
The diction and tone utilized in this poem expose the speaker’s battle as his feelings blend between his desire to be a man and his desire to return to his childhood. The rhyme and structure of the poem keep the reader in tune with the flow of the poem. In this poem a guy struggles to stay a male while eradicating his memories of the past, which he feels would be uncharacteristic of his present maturity.
The images in this poem helps to describe a picture in the reader’s mind so that the reader can have compassion with the speaker throughout his journeys into the past. In the very first verse, in the first line, the very first image is of a lady. In the 4th line the reader finds out that this lady is the speaker’s mom. The 3rd line shows a picture of a “child sitting under the piano … pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles.” This image gives the reader an image, perhaps of a parlor space, of a kid about three or four years of age delighting in the music produced by his mother. The love of the mom shines through her smile as she reciprocates to the child’s mild touch.
Later on, in the second verse, the contrasting picture of a cold, snowy night in the winter and the relaxing parlor triggers the “hymns” to appear doubly warm. This represents the standard image of a grand household sitting around a warm, crackling fire; they sing carols together and just delight in each other’s business. The piano in the first and 2nd verse is referred to as “tingling strings” and “tinkling piano” respectively. These light sounds help support the warm happy atmosphere during that time. These memories are what trigger the grown guy to be nostalgic for his past.
The diction and tone of the poem also show the author’s mixed feelings in the poem. The poem begins with the line, “softly in the dusk” to open the poem with a light, airy image. “Vista of years,” are words used to show his nostalgia as he walks down memory lane. He remembers the “boom” of the piano, which would seem loud to a child who is four-years-old. In the second stanza, he is a little more negative about his memories. The song he is listening to “betrays me back.” He feels that these memories should not be felt with such emotion because they cause him to “weep” as he reluctantly returns to his past. The last line of the poem is also negative as the speaker breaks down and goes “down the flood of remembrance.” He again flows down the flood reluctantly into the past. The tone is quite the same, supporting the diction that the author remembers a happy past, but is reluctant in continuing to do so. He is happy to remember his past, but he feels his “manhood is cast down.”
This poem’s structure and rhyme help bring an organization to the way the speaker shares his mixed feelings. The lines are coupled so that every two lines rhyme. The poem is structured so that in each of the three stanza the author describes an image of the present in the first two lines, and then the last two lines are spent describing his comfortable past. The second line of each stanza speaks of the vehicle that sends him back to the past while the third line of each stanza shows his increasing distress. In the first stanza it’s the singing woman that takes him “down the vista of years.” Next, the song takes him to “the old Sunday evenings at home.” Finally, the “great black piano” reminds him of the past.
The continuing conflict of the speaker’s emotions is described as he enjoys his memories, yet he despises his continuing nostalgia. The author uses diction and tone in this poem to reveal the speaker’s struggle as his feelings mix between his desire to be a man and his desire to return to his childhood, and rhyme and structure to keep the reader in tune with the flow of the poem. Lawrence names the poem “Piano” and thus one is poised to assume the piano is the key element of this poem; however, this is an example of a poet’s encouraging the reader to search for a deeper meaning.
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D. H. Lawrence “Piano” analysis. (2016, Jul 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/d-h-lawrence-piano-analysis-essay