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 apassionato. 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.
– D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Wikipedia tells us:
David Herbert Lawrence ... was an English writer and poet. His collected works represent, among other things, an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. Some of the issues Lawrence explores are sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.
Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage". At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation." Later, the literary critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness.
He became notorious as the author of Lady Chatterley's Lover, which was banned for a long time – until 30 years after his death! Several other novels, also banned for a time, are now recognised as great works of art.
He also wrote plays, criticism, travel books, and of course poetry. And he was highly regarded as a painter.
This poem appeals to me for its sweet nostalgia, its frank homesickness for the past. My mother played the piano too, and sang, so I can take myself back into just such a scene as he describes. But far from wanting to weep for my lost childhood, I enjoy revisiting as a temporary escape from the troubled times we live in.
Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright). This photograph of D.H. Lawrence is in the Public Domain.