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

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"Piano" is written in three stanzas, each a quatrain. As the poem begins, the speaker hears a woman singing, and it leads him to think of his mother and memories from his childhood. He is feeling nostalgic, yet hesitant to show his feelings until the end, when he can't contain it anymore and cries.


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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 straight away, and this is then compounded by the references to the “tingling strings” of the piano and the mother who “smiles as she sings.” In the second stanza the tone changes and becomes somewhat melancholy. The music he hears, and which prompts the memories of his childhood, is described as “insidious,” implying that the music harms him in some way. The music, he says, “Betrays him back” to the past. The alliteration of the letter “b” in this phrase creates a harsher tone.

In the third and final stanza, the speaker’s tone seems resigned and perhaps exasperated. He says that “The glamour / Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast / Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child.” The listing of effects here, and the absence of connectives, implies a matter-of-fact tone. The speaker is resigned to the fact that he is helpless against the metaphorical “flood” of nostalgia.

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The speaker of this poem does not identify himself, but we know that he is male, and he is old enough that the childhood he is remembering in this poem is in the past. The speaker is stirred by a woman "singing to me," which seems to spark a memory in him—he feels the singing "taking me back down the vista of the years" to his childhood.

The motif of music is what connects the present day to the memory. Note that the word piano itself means "softly," just as the woman is singing "softly." The mood of the poem, too, is soft; its tone is nostalgic, with the speaker saying, "the heart of me weeps to belong / To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside." This remembered "home" is defined, for the speaker, by its music: the "hymns in the cosy parlour," "the tinkling piano," and the "boom of the tingling strings" when the speaker sat, as a child, beneath a piano played by his mother. These sensory, auditory details help create the evocative mood of the piece: we feel the "boom" of the piano strings and hear the "tinkling" piano, the words almost onomatopoeiac.

In the final stanza, the speaker identifies a disconnect between the "clamour" of the singer, back in his present day, the softness of the song, and the memories, which came before. "It is vain" for the singer to try to break him from his reverie with "the great black piano appassionato." The speaker is too lost in his wistful, pensive nostalgia, with the memory of his childhood having almost a magical hold over him, a "glamour":

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.
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Summarize and briefly analyze the poem "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence.

In the poem “Piano,” author D. H. Lawrence looks back wistfully on his childhood, when he used to sit underneath the piano and listen to his mother play. He says, “Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me,” as he recalls the days of his childhood when his mother would play and sing as he sat hidden and protected, the way a small child feels in the presence of a loving parent.

For the poet, the woman's singing represents the spark that recalls his memory of youth. He refers to the “the insidious mastery of song.” The song is key, as it unlocks the poet's reminiscence, just as Proust’s memory is sparked by the aroma of the madeleine. It could be that it is a stranger singing; the important thing is that it sparks the memories.

The thought of the piano takes him "back down the vista of years" until he actually sees himself as “a child sitting under the piano.” At the keys, his mother sits emitting “the boom of the tingling strings” and pressing her “small, poised feet,” while she smilingly sings to her little boy. Perhaps the young boy sings some of the lyrics with her.

The poet longs to be back in the days of his childhood. He says that his “heart… weeps to belong to the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside.” The imagery is one of a comfortable evening, while the cold winter blusters outside. Snow falls, but the child is happily seated inside in the warmth of the parlor, the lovely sounds of the piano, and his mother’s singing. It is a Sunday, the day of rest, when all he had to do was sing and be content in his mother’s company. The juxtaposition of the cold winter outside and the singing and family portrait inside paints the picture of a harmonious family setting. In addition to setting the poem on a Sunday evening, he also imbues an essence of spirituality here when he compares the songs to “hymns in the cosy parlour” guided by “the tinkling piano.”

However, the poet knows that “it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour.” In other words, it is impossible for him to return to those idyllic days when he was warm and protected by a parent caring for a child. Now, he is a grown man, an adult with the responsibilities that an adult has. He says, “my manhood is cast.” Yet, recalling those wonderful days with his mother, in a bittersweet moment of memory or “flood of remembrance,” he weeps “like a child for the past.” He knows that it is impossible, but he longs to be back in time in those easier and loving days. Knowing that he cannot, he weeps.

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Summarize and briefly analyze the poem "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence.

D. H. Lawrence’s poem “Piano” illustrates the use of imagery.  Through the images, both visual and auditory,  the reader acknowledges the nostalgic mood of the poem. Written in 1918, the poem expresses the long held belief that a man should not cry; yet, this man cannot hold back his tears.


The point of view of the poem is first person with a man [possibly the poet] as the narrator.  His portrayal of the events he describes is both complex and revealingly simple.


  • The poem has three stanzas. Each stanza is a quatrain.  The lines are coupled so that every two lines rhyme. 
  • Every stanza follows the same pattern: the first two lines provide a scene of the present with the last two lines comparing the present to the past.
  • His vocabulary and diction are easy to follow and conversational in style.

Poetic Devices

The poet builds its impact with imagery.  There are two picture painted by the poet: the woman in the present singing and playing the piano; and  the mother playing the piano and the boy underneath at her feet.

Metaphorthe man’s memory of his childhood is compared to a vista, which mean a panoramic view or landscape

Simile—When the man’s emotions overwhelm him, he compares his emotional state to a child. 


1st stanza

In the present, a woman is singing to the speaker which reminds him of a time in his childhood.  The poet sets the scene using the words softly with the time at dusk.  As he hears the music, he sees himself sitting under the piano as his mother plays and sings.  This is a happy time because the mother smiles at her child.  The sounds are now booming and tingling…as he listens and watches his mother, he touches and presses her feet.  The mother does not mind this interference.

2nd stanza

The speaker does not really want to feel this experience at the time. He describes the impact of the song as sinister because it takes him back [whether he wants to go or not]  to a nostalgic time in his life---a beloved time.  Within himself, he cries for the time on the Sundays when it was winter outside.  The family would sit in the warm living room and sing with the piano as the leader of their tunes.

3rd stanza

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamor
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.

Because of his happy memories, the present day singer’s song has changed from soft to noisy with the large, ebony grand piano.  The speaker’s memories call him to another place when he was a child. As a sophisticated man, he does not want to show his emotions; however, he can no longer restrain himself, and he cries for the child that he was. Reluctantly, the speaker gives himself over to these memories.


Nostalgia for another time and place---sometimes music, sounds, and places take a person back in his memory. Often, the recollection makes the person go back to a pleasant time; however, the memory make bring the pain of the loss of the childhood or the loss of the people in the memory. 

Man versus Child---The child loved his mother and enjoyed the time spent under the piano with the family singing and laughing.  On the other hand, the speaker fears the loss of his masculinity when he yields to the memory’s emotions. This issue is one that a man faces in today’s society; however, men are beginning to be more comfortable in showing their true feelings.

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Summarize the poem "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence.

'Piano' written by D.H. Lawrence is a nostalgic poem. The speaker is listening to his lover sing for him in tune to the piano. The music of the piano serves as a guide who taking the poet's hand takes him for a journey down the memory lane, as is potrayed when he says:

Taking me back down the vista of years

The poet remembers his innocent childhood when during Sundays in winter he would sit inside his cosy parlour, with his mother's feet in his lap listening to her play the piano and sing hymns. Thus, music becomes not only magical but also divine. The speaker feels guilty and angry at himself, because as a man he is supposed to have better control over his feelings, but in the conflict between past and present the past wins, and the speaker starts weeping. He also feels guilty since instead of listening to the young woman who is singing passionately for him, he remembers his own mother's song. The speaker's tears bridges the gap between adulthood and childhood.

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Summarize the poem "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence.

Written in 1918 by D.H. Lawrence, the poem "Piano" uses first person point of view with the poet as the narrator.  The poem  has three quatrains with a set rhyme scheme of aabb in all of the stanzas.

Nostalgia reigns.  A smell, a noise, a word, a song, a poem---any of these sensory experiences can draw a person back to another time or place when something special happened in his life.  This is the essence of this poem.

A woman is singing a beautiful song to the poet. It swallows him up in a memory of times of yore: The man now a child sits under the piano listening to his mother playing and singing.  As she entertains, he presses her feet which makes his mother smile. 

The poet does not want to revisit this time; however, he  unable to stop the memories.

 In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong

He begins to weep for the time when he sat at the feet of his mother. His memory goes further; he yearns for the Sunday, wintry evenings,  singing hymns  led by the sound of the piano.

Back in the present, the woman's singing has changed from sweet music  to just noise. He know longer wants to hear the music of the present. His memories  entice him  back to his youth.  Despite being a grown man, he weeps for the child lost the past.

Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

What a beautiful poem used to remind the reader that even a grown man can hunger for his formative years where the world is not so much with him. Weeping, the man covets the life of the child of a bygone time.

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