Analysis of "Piano" by D.H. Lawrence

Text of the Poem

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

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

The Meaning of the Title: "Piano"

Many who play the piano have strong feelings attached to it. Lawrence is a very pensive poet, and it's easy to see his opinions and emotional attachment to the piano. Knowing Lawrence, however, there are also will be layered meanings and hidden metaphors in the poem. Lawrence uses the piano to symbolize his childhood. You can almost get the impression that he might have stopped playing or never learned to play the piano as he got older. Now, looking back, he regrets that decision. Life was so simple, black and white, just like the piano, but now, it has become so complex and so cruel.


A Paraphrase/Summary of the Poem

Softly, at sunset, a woman sings to me. I think back many years until I see a child playing under a piano with all of its strings, pressing the feet of a mother who is smiling and singing. The song takes me back (against my will) to Sundays at my house when it was winter and the songs that would fill the home. Now, it is useless for the singer to sing with the passionate piano. The glamour of my childhood is upon me and I weep as I miss my childhood.

Interesting Connotations Within the Poem

By using words like “cozy” and “tinkling piano” and “flood of remembrance” and “softly” and “with winter outside”, D.H. Lawrence paints this beautiful scene of a comfortable childhood. It makes the piano seem more inviting.

Shifts in Attitude or Tone

The shift occurs between the second and third paragraphs. Lawrence is through recounting the mental image that he sees and steps back into the present tense. It's a powerful change in the content and tone. It's crucial shifts like these that allow us to see the true purpose and meaning behind the poem. True poets employ masterful shifts in their work and it takes a diligent reading to catch them and analyze them.

D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence


Our hearts reach out as we read this. All of us are tempted to “weep like a child for the past.” The smallest picture or memory can immerse us in a pool of nostalgia and days later, we are still drying off. Music has such a powerful effect on people. The brain can link certain songs to memories or even smells and sights. Hearing a song that you haven’t heard for 20 years can shake the rust off of old memories and open a “flood of remembrance.” He doesn’t really sound bitter… just sad.

Maine Theme of "Piano"

An analysis of "Piano" by D. H. Lawrence shows that he is trying to tell others to take advantage of every moment that you have. Life is so precious. Youth truly is wasted on the young. He wants us to try to appreciate each moment for what it truly is and to look at things from a wider perspective. He wants us to recognize and appreciate the the way things smell, sound, feel. Small details are amazing.

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