I Remember, I Remember Poem Summary, Theme, Critical Analysis by Thomas Hood
I Remember, I Remember Summary
In the poem I Remember, I Remember, Thomas Hood goes back down to the memory lane to bring back the treasured memories from his childhood. The poet reminisces about his joys of childhood often comparing them with his present state of adulthood. As he delves more and more into his childhood days, he remembers every ounce of joy that he had received beginning from his childhood’s morning when he could feel the sun’s warmth coming from the little window of his room.
The passing day from morning till night gave pleasure to the child. But at present the poet wishes for the night to take away his breath which indicates his desire to death due to his present painful life. The contrast between his past and his present is clear through the portrayal of the sun that is daytime which is brighter and that which symbolises the past and the mentioned of the night that is darkness which means his present situation which is full of pain and distress.
In the second stanza, the poet moves from his house to the garden where the child looks and Remembers the different flowers like roses, violets, lilies and lilacs that made the garden bright. He believed these flowers to be heavenly blessed flowers. He also talks about the laburnum which reminds him of his brother as he had planted it on his birthday. His brother is no more whereas the tree is living. “The tree is living yet” conveys the message that his brother is no more but the tree he had once planted has life in it.
Next we see him that he focuses on his playing on swing and the way he moved through the air, that is in a light and carefree manner shows how he spent his childhood days happily. He was like feathers which flied quickly. This stanza contrasts youthful feeling of vitality and heaviness of the present. He says that a wonderful summer also can not heal him.
Then the poet contrasts the child’s close relationship with heaven with the rational knowledge of the adult, who lost faith in spirituality. He thinks of the dark huge fir trees that he imagined to be close to the heaven. All those were ignorance but now though he thinks rationally but there is lack of joy in his mind. So the poem, apart from being filled with an idealization of childhood, it is also wrapped with the concrete realisation of adulthood.
I Remember, I Remember About the Author Thomas Hood
Thomas Hood was an editor, publisher, poet and humorist. He was born in London (23rd May 1799). He was the son of a London bookseller. His satirical style of writing almost seemed out of place for the time in which he lived. Hood had private education in Islington but left this at the age of 14 to enter into employment at a counting house. He was not at all healthy and moreover, his profession made it worse.
So he left and became an engraver, in the city of London. Again his health failed him and he was sent to relations in Scotland. It is here, that his interest in outdoors and poetry began. In 1821 he became the sub-editor of the London Magazine and quickly became part of a wide and varied social scene. Hood’s work is streaked with humour.
In his day, some of his poems were translated for sale in Europe. Many of his works are considered classics and he remains today as a highly regarded poet of the Victorianera. Though he was known for his light verse and puns, Hood also depicted the working conditions of the poor.
Some of his published works are Odes and Addresses to Great People, Whims and Oddities, Up the Rhine, The Comic Annual etc. His best known poems are The Bridge of Sighs and The Song of Shirt. Thomas Hood died at the young age of 45 on the 3rd of May, 1845.
I Remember, I Remember Theme
Throughout the poem, Thomas Hood speaks of his childhood memories and also talks about the fleeting nature of time. He talks of his childhood memories, his childhood innocence childish ignorance in the poem. He also speaks that with time as it is the nature of it how everything changes. So memories of childhood and the fleeting nature of time become the major theme of this poem.
I Remember, I Remember Critical Analysis
The first stanza of the poem begins with the line I Remember, I Remember that continues to ring throughout the poem. This line centralised the poem on the word “I”. By elevating the self, Hood exposes to the readers a childhood memory.
The use of the present tense “remember” also helps to create a divide, within the poem. Hood is stuck in the present, he “remembers” the past days of his childhood from which his mind is unable to come out. The more he delves in his past days, the more he compares them with his present days.
They have left an indelible impression in his mind. The sun is personified as a force for good. He is shown to be friendly peeping in through the window of his room. But things have changed and at present he wishes he never wakes up. There is an equilibrium maintained in the first stanza between day and night, with hours of the day being bright and better when Hood was a child and with the darkness of night when he is in adulthood. The complete idealization of childhood is evident right down from the balance of day and night.
Though it is exaggerated, but it shows how much Thomas Hood mourns for his lost childhood. This stanza comes to an end with an exclamation from the poet. He wishes he had died. We can also find a link between the word ‘night’ and the poet’s death. We can also find a link between the word ‘night’ and the poet’s death. The next stanza focusses on two images those are the colours and the flowers of the period. The words like ‘red’, ‘white’ describe the array of different flowers.
Though the flowers symbolises natural beauty in his childhood memory, they are presented as delicate and fragile which are likely to perish and fade. Thomas Hood imagines all these flowers but they are not real. He says of roses, violets, lilies, lilacs which used to brighten up the garden. “The tree is living yet!” exclamation compounds Hood’s sense of excitement. | He sees a living remnants of the past he has lost. The tree had been planted by his brother who is no more but the tree it self is still alive. Hood finds something palpable which triggers yet more memories by his idyllic period or his childhood days.
The perceived lightness of the character is presented by Thomas Hood in the next stanza where he gives examples of his flying. Hood, relates his childhood to a bird, flying freely as he used to swing on his favourite tree. The words ‘rush’ and ‘fresh’ present the freedom of his childhood days- which he used to spend in a jovial manner. There was a time when Hood used to fly through the air with no obligations.
But then again we find a subtle shift back to the depressive present adulthood days. He used the past tense ‘flew’. Although he still cherishes and relishes his memories of his idyllic period at the same time he is also aware of his present period of his life which has now come to an end. The sense of freedom which he once rejoiced has new ended.
Hood evokes a contrast between the lightness of childhood and heaviness of the present. ‘So heavy now’ means that since he has lost the sense of childhood and ignorance which was full of joy and freedom, ‘he is stuck’ now and his mind is not free but it is heavy. The tragedy in this poem. Therefore is subtle but continual. We find the poet mourning for the things that he no longer is.
After the depressive nature of the last three lines of stanza 3, the first line in stanza 4 takes on a haunting melancholy. We find Hood to be in a depressed Hood. He wishes he was closer to the heaven. If he cannot return to his childhood days or period, he feels like he would rather die. The bitter melancholy that can be felt under the surface of the poem finally breaks here.
This is how the poet feels, and there is nothing he can do about it. In this stanza we find Hood who used to think about the tall fir trees, who tops of nearly touched the sky. Now that he is older he knows that the fir trees are not touching the sky. It was the ignorance of his childish nature which made Hood think in that way.
Though he now is aware of the reality, yet he is not happy. He is farther from heaven now than ‘when he was a boy’. We can stay that according to Hood, his childhood days were heavenly full of freedom joy, ignorance which was far better than his present painful days.
I Remember, I Remember Title of the Story
In the poem, ‘I Remember, I Remember’, the poet Thomas Hood gives a description of his childhood memories which at his present moment he remembers, and so he craves to go back to his childhood days. He remembers his home, his bedroom window through which the sun used to peep in and filled his room with warmth and brightness. He also says that the sun was friendly and was never late to visit him each morning. He is personifying the sun in the first stanza.
But things at present have changed. In his adulthood, he wishes the night to take away his breath. In the first stanza we find how the poet vividly remembers the house where he was born and also the different moments which he had spent there.
Then again in the second stanza, the poet think and remembers of the surrounding of his house. He remembers the different flowers like red and white roses, violets, lily cups which used to brighten and lighten up surrounding of his house. He also remembers the lilacs where the robin built its nest.
Then he remembers the laburnum tree which his brother had planted. Through his brother is no more, the presence of the tree which is still alive, reminds him of his brother. The poet does not visualise all these things concretely but all the things mentioned, have been his remembrance and commemoration of his childhood days. He also tells about how he used to swing through the air very fast to feel the rush of the fresh air. He used to be very jovial, vivacious and high
spirited as he flew like a bird on its wings. But now he says he is heavy as he is now not free like his childhood days. Here in this stanza also we find how the poet first recollects and remembers his past days and then he compares them to his present depress life.
Lastly we see, how clearly the poet again remembers the fir trees which used to touch the sky. When he was a child his ignorance made him think that the tops of the fir trees touched the sky. Though now in reality at his adulthood, he is aware of the truth but still he says that the days of his ignorance were better than his present days.
Almost in the whole poem, we find how Thomas Hood has given a description of his childhood days. Then he has compared that phase his life to the present phase. So first he remembers all the days of his childhood and then he gives a comparison. We find every stanza starting with ‘I Remember, I Remember’. So it can be said that the title of the poem ‘I Remember, I Remember’ is a relevant and suitable one.
I Remember, I Remember About the Poem
I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood is a poem that gives a high contrast to the childhood days and experience, a world with beautiful thoughts and an adult world which is very practical and is filled with regrets and losses and pain and without any joy like that of his childhood days. It is dedicated by Thomas Hood to the nostalgic embrace of the memory of childhood. In this poem, he Remembers his “childish ignorance” cherishing his memories and painting them with different colours and images.
Through his poem, it is clear that his childhood was a time of great happiness so he recollects all the things that are associated with his childhood. Childhood is said to be the most beautiful phase of one’s life. The poet in this poem brings out the truth and makes us not only to realise that childhood is the best phase but also makes the readers nostalgic about that idyllic period of their lives.
I Remember, I Remember Main Point Of The Poem
I Remember, I Remember is a reflective and emotional poems. It recalls the nostalgic memories of the poet’s childhood. The poet Thomas Hood wishes to get back his childhood days and the energy and be free from all the pains and sufferings that he suffers now as a grown up. He wonders about the moments where he lost his innocence and realized that the world is not what it seemed to be.
So his thoughts in his adulthood change and he realises the hypocrisy of the people around the world. So we can find a comparison of his childhood pleasant days with the painful present one. His longing and desire to regain the childhood days are clearly seen from this poem “I Remember, I Remember”.
I Remember, I Remember Linewise Summary
Stanza – I:
In the first stanza, Thomas Hood, the poet of ‘I Remember, I Remember’ describes the house where he was born. He feels nostalgic and could remember his house, his bedroom and the little window of his bedroom from where the sun came peeping in, in the morning. Here the poet personifies the sun who was friendly and did not forget to shine in time. The sun shared its warmth and brightness to him. These childhood days were very pleasant to him.
By the very presence of the sun peeping in through his little window, Thomas Hood wants to describe the past of his life which was bright like the sun. In the next two lines of the first stanza, he speaks of the night which is in contrast with the day of sun. His present days are being described as dark as the night. It is full of pains, suffering and depression. So he wants his breath to be taken away by night or in simple word he wants to die since he cannot go back to his childhood days.
Stanza – II:
The second stanza also starts with the line ‘I Remember, I Remember’. In this stanza he describes the garden of house which he remembers to be bright and colourful with white and red roses, violets, lily cup lilacs etc. With these colours he has tried to show the colourful days which he used to have in his childhood phase.
He also remembers the lilacs when the robin bird built its nest. When he remembers, all these natural beauties, he feels nostalgic and then he the laburnum which his brother had planted on his birthday. He remembers it vividly and again his present situation makes him unhappy as the tree is alive but still his brother who had planted the tree was dead.
Stanza – III :
The poet then remembersand goes on to recollect his childhood days spent on the swing breathing the fresh pure air. He understands in his present adulthood phase that his spirit enjoyed these tiny moments and they are still fresh in his memory. Now he is grown up and he has seen the world and experienced both the good and bad from his life. He once had spirit which used to fly in feathers like birds. Then was the time when he was carefree and so he had a spirit that was light and joyful.
But now his present life is full of worries, pains and sufferings since his mind is repleted with all these his spirit now heavy. So he cannot fly now like a bird which he used to do when he was a child. Summer is cherished in the country where the poet was born. But even such wonderful summer pools are not able to heal his fever. The fever is actually the illness of his mind. He is now mentally unfit rather than physically.
Stanza – IV:
In the next stanza that is in last one, the poet Thomas Hood Remembers the fir trees which were thick and so high that their tops almost used to touch the sky. This imagination of the fir trees being touching almost the sky was just due to childish ignorance. Since he was a child then, he did not know that trees cannot touch sky.
But now that he is grown up, he knows the reality. Though he knows the reality, he has no joy. This means that in his adulthood he has come across many good and bad things. He has been introduced with the stark reality of the world. He can understand now that life is full of pains, worries and sufferings. There was a time in his childhood when his joy was boundless.
He was unaware of the harsh reality of the world and so he was always happy. This happiness of his childhood is like heaven to him. His childhood days were heavenly but now in his adulthood i.e at present he is far away from heaven as there is no joy in his mind.
So in the poem, we find Thomas Hood while delving into his childhood finds peace and happiness. He Remembers his days when he was a child and he cherised all the memories of that idyllic period. With these happy memories, we find Thomas Hood comparing his life and the days of his adulthood which he finds full of despair and gloom.
He is filled with worries, anguish and depression in his present life, so he wishes to die since he knows that it is only possible for him to recollect those happy memories but it is not possible for him to go back to those days.
I Remember, I Remember Linewise Explanation
1. I Remember, I Remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn
The poet Thomas Hood describes the house where he was born. He Remembers it and also says about how the sun used to shine and peek through the little window of his bedroom.
2. He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!
In this line the sun has been personified. The poet says that the sun had been friendly with him and had always been in time. He had neither visited him late nor did he remain long a day. In the next two lines the poet speaks about the night. He wishes the night to take his breath away. The daytime with the sun, is his childhood and the night, his adulthood or present time which he does not want to live.
3. I Remember, I Remember
The roses, red and white,
The vi’lets, and the lily – cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The poet again remembers of the flowers growing in his garden. The variety of flowers like the red and white roses, the violets, the lilies looked bright and colourful in the garden. This is also a recollection from childhood memories which his recollection from childhood memories when his days were brought and colourful like the flowers
4. The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday, —
The tree is living yet!
The poet remembers and speaks of the lilac tree with the rest of robin. The laburnum tree which is still alive reminds him of his brother who had planted it on his birthday. Though his brother is no more but the tree which he had planted is alive.
5. I Remember, I Remember
Where I was used to swing,
And though the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing.
In these lines of the third stanza, the poet remembers the days when he used to swing through the fresh air. He remembers how he used to fly like birds, when he used to swing, he felt light here he compare bird with wings.
6. My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!
During his childhood days he used to swing and his spirit also flew in feathers, that is, he used to be in high spirits then. But now he is heavy hearted as his life is now full of sufferings. The summer pools which are usually comfortable in the country where the poet is born, also could hardly heal him or cool him because he is mentally and spiritually ill.
7. I Remember, I Remember
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
The poet remembers the thick high fir trees with slender tops. When he was a child he used to think that the tops of the fir trees almost touched the sky.
8. It was a childish ignorance,
But now ‘tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heav’n
Than when I was a boy.
But now he can realize that it was his childish ignorance that made him believe this, because tops of trees can never touch the sky. This is the truth and reality. When he realizes the truth of life and since he has experienced many things (good and bad) in the world, his joys is no more. So he says that his childhood days with ignorance was heavenly and blissful to him but now he is far from heaven, that is, there is no heavenly joy in his adulthood life.
I Remember, I Remember Annotations and Vocabulary
Peeping — peering
Morn — morning
Borne — to contain ( past participate of bear)
Vi’lets — a kind of flower which is purple, blue or white Lilacs a shrub or small tree which has fragrant violets, pink or white blossom.
Laburnum — a small tree having hanging clusters yellow flowers
Slender — slim, lean
Ignorance — unconsciousness