Piano Questions and Answers
by D. H. Lawrence

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Describe the speaker, tone, and mood of the poem "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence.

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The speaker in D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Piano” recalls the times when, as a child, he used to sit at the piano, listening to his mother play. The speaker feels nostalgic for those times, and he is sad that those times are now past, never to be experienced again. He “weeps to belong” to those times once more, when he was with his mother, warm and snug inside, in “the cosy parlour.” The nostalgia of the speaker’s memories infantilizes the speaker. His “manhood is cast / Down in the flood of remembrance” so that he “weeps like a child for the past.” The metaphorical “flood” suggests that the speaker is helpless against the memories. They overwhelm him as would a flood, and, ironically, he is reduced to the emotional state of the child he can no longer literally be.

The mood, or tone, of the poem is synonymous with the tone of the speaker’s voice. At the beginning of the poem the tone is calm, peaceful, and wistful. The first word, “Softly,” suggests calmness...

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Piano, means softly, in musical vocabulary.

The poem “Piano” by Lawrence isn’t a perfect poem by any means. The strained juxtaposition of clamor and glamor indicates a discomfortness for finding rhyming words. Still, glamor is an accurate word in its context: the mature man knows that the child’s eyes endowed the past with an illusory beauty.

The quality of Lawrence’s poem may be seen in the specificity of its detail: “the boom of the tingling strings,” “the small, poised feet.” Lawrence enters into the child’s perspective, while able to criticize it from outside. The speaker is resisting his urge to cry, as the connotations of his words indicate (the song is insidious, it betrays). But at last he is unable to hold back his tears and, sensibly, yields to them.

The subject of “Piano,” is a stock source for poems. Yet the
poem strikes us with something fresh. Its language is vivid, unconventional; its words insidious and betrays add a coiled spring effect; it sets up an energetic tension between present and past.

The tone is soft reminiscing with a tense mood.