An exercise in nostalgia in long couplets, D. H. Lawrence’s poem ‘Piano’ sees the speaker recalling his childhood when he listened to his mother playing the piano, while sitting under it and holding his mother’s feet as she played. This memory opens up a ‘vista’ into the past which includes longing for the Sunday evenings of the speaker’s childhood.
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.
If you enjoyed Lawrence’s ‘Piano’, you may also like D. H. Lawrence’s poem about discord in childhood.