Analysis: Piano. (D.H.Lawrence)

28 Nov

D. H. Lawrence’s Piano shows a man experiencing nostalgia as he listens to a woman singing which reminds him of his childhood.

The poem starts with the man hearing the soft singing of a woman which takes him on a mental journey down memory lane and he sees visions of his childhood flashing in front of him. The memory he focuses on is that of a small child who is sitting beneath a grand piano as his mother plays it, taking his mother’s elegant feet into his small hands and listening to the loud chords of music.
The man is reluctant to remember those days and be affected by them, but the song which the woman is singing seems to have a slow subtle impact on him and despite his hesitance he gives in to his emotions and yearns for the days of childhood: the cold Sunday evenings in winter when it used to now outside and they, mother and son used to sit in the warm comfortable indoors and sing melodious hymns with the help of the piano.
The man who was listening to the lady singing now thinks that it would be useless for her to continue on as he is already so affected by his memories that he is just physically present, his mind elsewhere. Without any thought of his adulthood, he bursts into tears remembering the blissful ignorance and innocence of his infant years. He starts weeping, thus bridging the gap between his past and his present.

Lawrence uses words in such an intricate manner throughout the poem that they end up creating vivid and delightful imagery. By using the word ‘vista’ he propels the images of the reader’s own childhood in front of his eyes so that one experiences the same thing that man experienced.  These images ‘take him back down’ into the memories of his childhood. This immediately brings to mind the image that growing up is similar to climbing some difficult mountain and in his adulthood, the man is right at the top, and from there he falls into his childhood again. Onomatopoeia used in describing the ‘boom’ of the ‘tingling’ strings of the piano indicates that the man in the poem is none other but Lawrence himself, as the tiny detail that the piano would sound loud to a small child and consequently would be described as booming when later remembered even as an adult is so simply portrayed and thus removes all doubts that Lawrence is writing from personal experience. Further, the man remembers that his mother’s feet were ‘poised’ betraying the respect and awe a little child has for its parents. Even at that tender age, the child identifies dignified elegance with his other.
The words ‘in spite of myself’ and ‘betrays me back’ show the immense struggle that the man goes through with his own warring desires. The need to remain solidly footed in his adulthood and the yearning to give that up for the innocence and joys of childhood tear him apart and he goes against his own desires by giving in to the latter. Again the words used are so simple yet effective in describing the evenings spent by the fire that they paint a vivid image in the readers mind: one of comfort, warmth and unlimited acceptance. This scene casts a melancholy shadow over the poem, as the man remembering these simple moments from his past suggest that he no longer has the comfort of a family or home to lean upon, and that his life is riddled with difficulties and worries for him to long for the dull and boring adolescent years.

This poem achieves that delicate balance between being cliché, sentimental and being full of self-pity; and expressing empathy. This is done because though the overview of the poem is simple and direct, there are some strong words which are sprinkled throughout with such apt accuracy that they intensify the powerful feelings that a man experiences when he is torn between his past and present lives.
The title of the poem, ‘Piano’ is quite suiting as music is proven to be the strongest trigger of memories. Also it implies that playing the piano, and subsequently music, played a large role in the man’s life: his mother used to play and sing hymns on the piano in his childhood, and even as an adult he finds the time to escape the responsibilities for a few hours by attending musical concerts as the woman singing and playing the piano could be seen as such. The piano was their guide in his childhood, and it still continues to show him the way through life.
Nostalgia is the central idea behind the poem but one would not be wrong to say that it also throws light on the pains of growing up. The man in the poem has traveled the road of life and has reached his adulthood, a phase of life which is associated with freedom of will and power of right. But he still contemplates giving all that up; his heart ‘weeps to belong’ and his ‘manhood is cast down a flood of remembrance’ as the ‘glamor of childish days’ overcomes him emotionally. He throws away the confines of his ‘manhood’, breaking the unspoken rule that men aren’t supposed to show emotions by crying for his childhood. When does a person experience such contrasting emotions? It is only when the responsibilities and burdens of adulthood become too much to bear that one starts wishing that one could somehow go back to one’s immature and ignorant days of being a child, free of worries and still holding the limitless possibilities of growing up in its hand, head full of unbroken dreams and untarnished ideals and principles.

Thus is ‘Piano’ another one of Lawrence’s masterpieces, as he once again portrays the complex workings and dealings of the human heart in such a refined, elegant yet simple manner that he pulls at all the right heartstrings and one finds oneself tearing up while remembering one’s own childhood days.


Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Analysis of Poems.



23 responses to “Analysis: Piano. (D.H.Lawrence)

  1. Biswajit talukdar

    May 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I love diz poem “piano”

  2. C.Y LEUNG

    January 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm


  3. Lion

    April 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I love diz poem “piano” too

  4. shanna

    May 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    love it!! ❤

  5. Yssa Gawaran

    June 10, 2013 at 10:35 am

    thanks for helping me with my assignments….

  6. Raven Marie

    June 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you so much for this! It helped me a lot in answering my assignment. I’m not really good in understanding poems you know. Well sometimes anyway. When I’m being too lazy to use my head. xD

    p.s. Now that I clearly understand the poem, I can say that it is one amazing poem. I can’t help but empathize with the author. Even though I’m not yet fully separated from my family, I really undrstand how he feels. It is such a lovely thing to read and to spread.

    Thanks again! More power and Godbless :))

  7. M

    June 22, 2013 at 4:07 am

    nice 😀

  8. thayuman

    July 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    it is very nice poem

  9. Migzylicious

    July 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Thank u soooo much!! I got an A+ xD

  10. HughesOnTheNews

    September 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    this is brilliant! i’m actually considering mentioning ‘The Piano’ in my English personal statement for uni! 😛

  11. thisari

    December 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    good analaysis

  12. diem

    January 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    this piece of shit didn’t help at all im mad, its probably cause im to dumb to understand but I dnt get any of this shit, fuck this im taking English as a second language

    • har33m

      April 23, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      Trolling on sites isn’t going to help you with your English. Especially if you use that kind of grammar. I wish you luck for your exams.

    • fred

      May 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      mind ur language just because u ar stupid doesnt mean u get to swear

  13. poop

    January 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    i ❤ diz poem yo

  14. eli

    February 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    this poem best suits Frued and Lacan’s psychological development theories. how he desires to go back to his childhood and at the same time being afraid of losing your adulthood is what all humans desire. the poem is fascinating.

    • har33m

      April 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      Yes, in a way you’re right. But if I start dropping names like Freud in an O level essay, some of the people visiting my site in the hopes of getting some help with the dreaded Literature exams would have minor panic attacks. 🙂

  15. Prince Marcel

    April 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    you are superbe, I think my pen will begin to speak, all most forgot thank you

  16. muhammad rafay

    November 26, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    holy shit these notes are extremely well elaborated and the poem is described in an extremely well manner hats off to you man

  17. anup gumble

    December 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm


  18. Tasbeha Hussain

    March 11, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    The poem’s awesome and so is the analysis. Hats off to the people who are involved in making this. You guys are great

  19. Anas

    February 29, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    omg this analysis are too good.


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