The Piano, a poem which explores memory and life, is D.H Lawrence’s most famous work. The Gift of Li Young Lee explores the same idea. These poems demonstrate that memory is a complex part of the life journey and can be both a blessing and a curse. These poems examine both the positive and negative aspects of memory.
D.H. Lawrence discusses how memories can bring with them an uncontrollable feeling of nostalgia in The Piano. However, this nostalgia can bring joy and also cause suffering to a person’s mind. The sound of a piano “betrays” the speaker and forces him back to his past. Both poems have a nostalgic tone, but the nostalgia has contrasting effects on the speakers. The poem The Piano is a sad and melancholic piece. It is obvious that the poet does not want to experience the sorrow that comes with revisiting past events.
The Piano is about a man who refuses to be influenced by nostalgia. He knows that he would lose his ability to grasp the present if he allowed his past to influence his emotions. The poet’s experience is bittersweet, as he is forced into the past and betrayed. These past memories cause him to long for his childhood and make him struggle with the present. As the sun sets, a woman whispers to me. It takes me back down the years, until I see a child sitting under the piano. Her mother smiles and presses her small feet as she sings.
The poet’s first line is a softly singing song that takes the speaker back to his childhood. It is important to use the word “dusk”. Dusk is the time when daylight ends and night begins. This could be used to describe the state of mind that oscillates between the past or the present and is completely indifferent. The dusk may be seen as the connecting force between the present moment and the past, in the same way that it connects day to night. Interesting is the fact that the woman in the present sings softly, but the sound of the past sounds like a boom. This indicates that his past is very powerful in this moment. It’s not surprising that the speaker feels bitter about the past.
The Gift, in contrast, explores memory’s benefits and describes what the speaker has learned from his past. He feels that his father’s lessons have helped him grow in experience. The memory of the speaker in this poem is stronger than the one of The Piano. It helps him to hold onto his present and forge a loving relationship with his wife. I also recall the tenderness he applied to my face, and the fires of discipline he lit above my head. The poet is able to recall the beauty and calmness of his father’s past memories. His father’s voice was compared with “a well of water” and to “a prayer”, meaning that the speaker worships and loves his father. This could be an indicator that he cherishes his memories.
The contrast between The Piano’s refusal to listen and The Gift’s celebrations of memory creates a complicated idea about the role memory plays in shaping people. The first poem’s speaker is ineffective when faced with his memories. These memories are not pleasant, but they make me long for my childhood and make me resent my manhood. The Gift, on contrary, celebrates memory and explores how it can be cultivated in one’s life. The Piano is a celebration and mourning for the past that highlights the conflict between memory and its negative side. The Gift however, highlights a unique aspect of memory.