Piano

Piano

 By D. H. Lawrence

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

Summary of Piano

  • Popularity of “Piano”: “Piano” by David Herbert Lawrence, a great English poet and writer, is a lyrical poetic piece. It was published in his collection, Love Poems, and Others, in 1913. The poem is about a man reminiscing about his childhood. It illustrates how he wishes to dart back in time when he hears a woman singing while playing the piano. The actual representation of the speaker’s connection with his past and its realistic comparison with his adulthood make this poem alluring for the readers.
  • “Piano” As a Representative of Sorrow: The poem explores the childhood memories of the speaker and their relation with his present-day life. It begins when the speaker sheds light on a lady whose singing and piano playing skills take him back to the past, where he sees a child under the piano. To support that child, his mother sings on the tune he plays. Presently, the woman’s singing brings him both pleasure and pain. At first, he gets captivated by her melodious voice, but the charm disappears when the same melody makes him dive deep into the time he wishes to forget. He remembers how he used to spend time with this musical equipment. These thoughts corrode his present-day joy and make him long for a time that can never be reversed.
  • Major Themes in “Piano”: The role of memories in one’s life, nostalgic impact of music, and sadness are the major themes of the poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker tries to establish that no matter how far we go in life, we feel a strange belonging and attachment to our childhood. The description shows that the speaker shared a candid relationship with his mother, who is perhaps no longer with him. Therefore, the woman’s melody cast a nostalgic impact on him; it evokes a strong emotional response in him due to which the lines between present and past become blurred.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Piano”

literary devices are tools the writers use to give deeper meanings to their poetic efforts. D. H. Lawrence has also used some literary devices whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside” and the sound of /e/ in “ I weep like a child for the past.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “with winter outside,” and /s/ sound in “smiles as she sings.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me” and the sound of /m/ in “Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast.”
  4. Caesura: It is a break or pause in the middle of a line of verse. These breaks can be towards the beginning, middle, or the end of a line such as; “With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour”
  5. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. D. H. Lawrence has used imagery in this poem such as, “A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings”, “I weep like a child for the past” and “Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet has used singing as an extended metaphor to show how past memories keep on haunting people in life.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The singing of the child symbolizes the memories he desires to relive.
  4. Simile: It is a device used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. Lawrence has used this device at the end of the poem such as “ I weep like a child for the past.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Piano”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. D. H Lawrence has used end rhyme in this poem such as; “outside/guide”, “cast/past” and “song/belong.”
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, every stanza is a quatrain.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows an AABB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising three verses.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Piano” are useful to use in lectures or speeches when presenting the role of memories and past in one’s life.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.”