How is the theme of memory conveyed in the poem "Piano" by D.H. Lawrence? 

Expert Answers
samcestmoi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is incredibly poignant and sad it its treatment of memory.  In the poem, the speaker hears a woman singing to the accompaniment of a piano, and it brings back memories of his childhood, when he would sit underneath a piano in his family’s parlor, “pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.”  Lawrence writes almost with animosity, referring to the music which sends the mind back in time as “insidious,” and the speaker as being “betrayed” by his memory.  And as he is in the throes of remembrance and nostalgia, the speaker’s adult life is cast in depressing shadow as, he says, “I weep like a child for the past.”

Through the use of stimulus and memory, “Piano” hits at the very heart of the disconnect between childhood and adulthood; how as one gets older, nothing will ever be as sweet or as comfortable in life as one’s childhood.  These past events have a “glamour,” Lawrence writes, and harbor a belonging that it is rare to find outside one’s happy childhood home.  And as we get older, our past becomes more distant, which makes us long for it all the more.