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.
When compared to ‘My Parents kept me away from Children who were Rough’, the poem ‘Piano’ bears a significant variance. The emotive language throughout the poem marks its soft tone, manipulates the readers, and makes them unaware of the underlying childhood problems. The soft tone can first be noticed from the title. The word ‘Piano’ is ambiguous, signifying that it could have a double meaning, either indicating the physical object, or alluding to the tone of the poem as gentle and soft. Further use of emotive vocabularies like ‘softly’, ‘vista’ ‘mother’ and ‘smiles’ echoes the tenderness of the tone.
After portraying a warm scenario in the first stanza of the poem, D. H. Lawrence dwells on a problem, although not one faced in childhood. Here the soft tone is contradicted by the use of emotively negative language, specifically ‘insidious’ and ‘weeps’, the contradiction further advanced by the use of alliteration of harsh ‘B’ sounds in the phrase ‘Betrays me back’. The poem as a whole, with a first-person narrator, provides access to the subject’s secret thoughts, and succeeded in communicating to the reader about him feeling less masculine for giving in to his wistful impulses.
In other words, the poem ‘Piano’ leaves childhood problems unexplored, by only dealing with manhood problems in detail. Although the poem ‘Piano’ does not provide readers with specifics on childhood problems, I appreciate the poet’s use of figures of speech. The title ‘Piano’ sets the tone of the poem, which is echoed by the use of emotive words like ‘softly’, ‘hymns’ and ‘cosy’. The poem frequently features soft ‘s’ sounds: ‘smiles as she sings’. This could consolidate the soft impression created earlier as ‘s’ sounds when pronounced are relatively quiet, which fit with the gentle tone the poet tried to create.
The use of onomatopoeia ‘boom’ and ‘tinkling’ relives the image before the readers’ eyes and this is a very realistic approach to communicate. Moreover, personification is applied in the phrase ’till the heart of me weeps to belong’ which could also help actualise a narrated image. Definite phrases are also used in order to communicate to the readers clearly. An example of this can be seen from the phrase ‘Betrays me back’ which illustrates the poet’s reluctance to go back to his childhood memory.
Another example is the phrase ‘cast Down in the flood of remembrance’ which depicts coherently the endless flow of memory the poet was experiencing. The use of enjambment could also be seen from this phrase: the word ‘Down’ was deliberately put at the beginning of a sentence, so that it could stand out with a capital ‘D’. The feeling of ‘Down’, failure to control emotion, can therefore be easily recognized. All in all, the ease for me to comprehend the poem is the main reason why it is so appealing, which is the fruitful result of D. H. Lawrence’s craft.