The structure of the three poems is similar in that all three poems use enjambment mainly to increase the pace of the poets’ recollection. In Piano, D.H. Lawrence uses enjambment as well as rhyming couplets throughout the poem which establishes a smooth flow to his memories and gives rhythm to the poem. This makes it appear to be like the music that is being played from the “Piano”. Poem at Thirty-Nine contains enjambment and short lines which increases the pace of the poem. It is also free verse which suits the conversational tone as the speaker flits from past memories to the present. The repetition of “How I miss my father!” in the poem reinforces the point that her father had an important influence on her life. The use of short lines, enjambment and rhyme scheme in Crabbit Old Woman makes the poem fast paced so there is active delivery. “Then open your eyes,/ you’re not looking at me” is a line from the poem that shows brevity and enjambment. This can also be attributed to the fact that the entire poem is made up of one stanza so the old woman seems to be recollecting her memories spontaneously. The structures of the poems have been similarly utilised to suit the speakers’ stream of consciousness.
Extensive use of language and forms of imagery is applied in the three poems. Sensory details like “Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me” are effectively utilised in the first stanza of the poem, Piano. In Poem at Thirty-Nine, the use of alliteration with the ‘t’ sound in “he taught me that telling the truth” makes a ‘tutting’ sound which fits in well with the context about the lessons learnt by the speaker. “He cooked like a person dancing in a yoga meditation” is a simile that reflects the joy and passion he felt while cooking. The ‘d’ sound alliteration in “Dark days are upon me” in the poem Crabbit Old Woman emphasises the darkness and impending doom that is soon to befall the old woman. The speaker uses an imperative command, “I’ll tell you who I am” to force the nurses to acknowledge her real personality. The fact that the old woman can recall past events in her life in chronological order shows her good memory. The use of juxtaposition when the speaker says that “I remember the joys, / I remember the pain,” is effective because she mentions both aspects of her memories, the positive and negative. We understand that she has had a full life which she strives to explain to the nurses using various devices. The use of language and imagery throughout the three poems have aided in the making the memories seem clearer to the reader.
The three poems have different moods and tones. In the first stanza of Piano, the mood is happy and pleasant because of the “mother who smiles as she sings” and because we hear “tingling strings” which gives a soothing effect due to the use of sensory details. The brief mood change in the second stanza takes us completely by surprise where words like “insidious”, “betrays” and “weeps” are used. The mood swings back to a pleasant feeling in the last stanza when the speaker is overwhelmed with emotion by his recollections. Poem at Thirty-Nine starts off with a sad, regretful mood saying “How I miss my father” and “I wish he had not been so tired” which eventually moves into a more cheerful one where the speaker describes her father’s actions with gusto. I felt better at the culmination of the poem because it ends on a very positive note. In Crabbit Old Woman, the mood of the poem shows slight anger when she uses an imperative tone and commands the nurses to listen to her because she wants them to understand that she was not always “crabbit”. There is a shift in tone and the mood changes at the turning point of the poem where the speaker begins to recollect all her happy nostalgic thoughts like “A young girl of sixteen/ with wings on her feet”. At the second turning point of the poem, the mood becomes sad and negative once more and it speaks about how “nature is cruel”. This makes the memory seem sadder because she is portrayed as an unfortunate victim. The poet’s true objective in writing the poem is to inform us that we should see beyond the old, frail bodies of an elderly person and see the person inside them. The mood and tone of the three poems greatly affects the way in which the memories of the speakers are portrayed to the reader so therefore, this was used successfully by the three poets.
I believe that these three poems are linked by the speakers’ thoughts of reminiscence about the past because of issues in their life like the desire to return to their childhood, death, loneliness and the resistance to stereo-types. The intense nostalgia which runs like a thread connecting all three poems evokes a sense of pathos. I find that the poem, Piano represents strong nostalgic thoughts effectively and is coincidentally my favourite poem because of the positive feeling that it conveys through use of many literary devices, use of language and imagery. The pleasing effect that it had on me can be referred to the warm and comfortable scene that is established by the poet.
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Five stars This essay is a thorough analysis of the theme, structure, language and tone of the three poems selected. It analyses the effect of the writers' choices and the consequent effect on the reader. A personal response to the texts is included. Points are well-supported with evidence from the text.