Compare the early version of "Piano" by D.H Lawrence with the revised version. Which version is stronger?
This is an important exercise for literature students to conduct, as it shows the way in which poets work very hard at revising their work and slowly perfecting it. It is generally agreed that the final version is much superior to the earlier version of this poem, as the final version is a lot shorter and uses its conciseness to say just as much as the earlier version but without the unnecessary extra words and detail. Consider the first stanza of the earlier version, that is missed out in the final version:
Somewhere beneath that piano's superb sleek black
Must hide my mother's piano, little and brown with the back
That stood close to the wall, and the front's faded silk, both torn
And the keys with little hollows, that my mother's fingers had worn.
Lawrence makes a correct decision to leave this out of his final version as it offers very little else except to set the scene and introduce the theme of memory as images from the present and the past collide. In the final version, the poem begins with the reminiscence straight away, and this makes a much more powerful beginning and emphasises the way that reveries can steal upon individuals completely unawares. In short, the more concise and abrupt nature of the final version makes it much stronger than the former version. Lawrence says infinitely more by writing less.