I Remember, I Remember: Summary, notes, solutions
Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the poem I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
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Summary of the poem
Thomas Hood’s “I Remember, I Remember” is a heartfelt dive into the world of nostalgia. It’s like opening an old photo album and getting lost in the memories of yesteryears.
The poem starts with Hood taking us back to his childhood home. He paints a vivid picture of a window where the morning sun would sneak a peek. But there’s a twist. While he cherishes these memories, he also hints at moments in his current life when he wishes the night would just sweep him away. It’s a stark reminder that adulthood isn’t always sunshine and roses.
Speaking of roses, Hood then takes us on a stroll through the gardens of his past. We see roses, violets, and even a robin setting up home in the lilacs. There’s a touching moment where he recalls his brother planting a tree on his birthday—a tree that’s still standing, a silent witness to the sands of time.
The next bit is all about the joys of being young and carefree. Hood reminisces about swinging and feeling as free as a bird. But, as with all good things, there’s a catch. That light-hearted spirit he once had? It’s now weighed down by the challenges of grown-up life.
Finally, Hood talks about those towering fir trees from his childhood days. He used to think they brushed the heavens. Realizing they don’t is a bit of a downer for him. It’s like waking up from a dream and realizing that maybe, just maybe, childhood was the closest he ever got to heaven.
Critical analysis of the poem
“I Remember, I Remember” by Thomas Hood is a touching journey into the realm of childhood memories and the relentless march of time. The poem is drenched in nostalgia, drawing a stark contrast between the carefree days of youth and the burdens of adulthood.
The poem’s structure, with its four stanzas of eight lines each, mirrors the cyclical nature of memories, especially with the recurring phrase “I remember, I remember.” This rhyme scheme gives the poem a rhythmic heartbeat, making the memories pulse with life.
The phrase “I remember, I remember” isn’t just a repetition; it’s an echo, a heartbeat of the past that keeps resounding in the speaker’s mind. Hood’s imagery is so vivid that it feels like stepping into a painting. Take, for instance, the “little window where the sun / Came peeping in at morn.” It’s easy to visualize a calm morning scene. And the flowers – the “roses, red and white,” “violets,” “lily-cups,” and “lilacs” – they’re not just flowers; they’re symbols of a time when life was simpler and more innocent. But as the poem progresses, these light, airy images give way to the weightier reflections of adulthood.
Childhood in the poem feels like a dance, with the speaker’s “spirit [flying] in feathers.” But adulthood? It’s a stark contrast, with the spirit feeling “so heavy.” The realization that he’s now “farther off from heaven” than in his youth is a poignant acknowledgment of lost innocence and the looming shadow of mortality.
Nature isn’t just a backdrop in this poem; it’s a character. The sun, flowers, trees, and birds are all fragments of the speaker’s past. The laburnum tree, still standing tall, is a testament to memories that refuse to fade, even as the sands of time slip away.
The poem’s mood is like a gentle sigh – a mix of fond remembrance and a touch of heartache. There’s a palpable sense of longing, especially when the speaker admits, “But now, I often wish the night / Had borne my breath away!” It’s a transition from the warmth of memory to the chill of reality.
At its heart, Hood’s poem is a reflection on time’s relentless march and the journey from the innocence of childhood to the complexities of adulthood. It’s a reminder that while time moves on, memories, with their vivid colors and emotions, stay with us, forever etched in our hearts.
Line-by-line explanation of the poem
I remember, I remember, / The house where I was born,
The poet recalls with nostalgia the home of his earliest memories.
The little window where the sun / Came peeping in at morn;
He remembers a specific window in his childhood home where the morning sun would shine through.
He never came a wink too soon, / Nor brought too long a day,
The sun was always timely, neither rising too early nor setting too late.
But now, I often wish the night / Had borne my breath away!
In his current state, he sometimes wishes that the night had taken his life, indicating a sense of despair in adulthood.
I remember, I remember, / The roses, red and white,
He reminisces about the vibrant roses from his childhood.
The violets, and the lily-cups, / Those flowers made of light!
He recalls other flowers that seemed to glow with a special light.
The lilacs where the robin built, / And where my brother set
He remembers the lilac bushes where a bird built its nest and a memory involving his sibling.
The laburnum on his birth-day, / The tree is living yet!
A tree was planted on his brother’s birthday, and it still stands, symbolizing enduring memories.
I remember, I remember, / Where I was used to swing,
He recalls playing and swinging as a child.
And thought the air must rush as fresh / To swallows on the wing;
He felt the fresh air while swinging, comparing his joy to that of birds in flight.
My spirit flew in feathers then, / That is so heavy now,
His spirit was light and free during childhood but feels burdened in adulthood.
And summer pools could hardly cool / The fever on my brow!
He remembers the refreshing summer pools and the intense emotions of his youth.
I remember, I remember, / The fir trees dark and high;
He reminisces about the tall fir trees from his childhood.
I used to think their slender tops / Were close against the sky:
In his childhood, he believed the trees touched the sky.
It was a childish ignorance, / But now ’tis little joy
He realizes his naive childhood beliefs, and there’s less joy in knowing the reality now.
To know I’m farther off from heaven / Than when I was a boy!
He feels more distant from the bliss of childhood and closer to happiness as a child than he does now.
Additional questions and answers
1. What is the rhyme scheme of each stanza in the poem?
Answer: The rhyme scheme of each stanza is ABCBDEFE.
2. What figure of speech is used in the line “Came peeping in at morn”?
Answer: The poet uses the literary device of personification, attributing the human action of peeping to the sun, as if the sun were sneakily peeking through the window to check on the poet in the morning. This adds an endearing, almost mischievous character to the sun.
3. What does the poet wish had happened to him in childhood?
Answer: Conveying the depth of his disillusionment and unhappiness with adulthood, the poet expresses that he wishes the figurative night had “borne his breath away” when he was a carefree child, meaning he wishes he had died during the tranquil innocence of childhood and avoided the melancholy burdens of adulthood altogether.
4. Name two types of flowers mentioned in the second stanza.
Answer: Roses and violets.
5. Who planted the laburnum tree and when?
Answer: The poet’s brother planted it on his birthday.
6. What makes the poet nostalgic about the laburnum tree?
Answer: It reminds him of his childhood days.
7. How does the poet describe his childhood experience on the swing?
Answer: The poet uses vivid imagery to capture the wonderful freedom and exhilaration he felt as a child effortlessly soaring back and forth on the swing. He describes the sensation of gliding through the fresh, brisk air as transcending, with his spirit feeling as light, untethered, and joyful as a bird in flight.
8. What metaphor does the poet use to contrast his spirit in childhood and now?
Answer: His spirit used to be light and airy like feathers, now it is heavy.
9. What brings “fever” to the poet in adulthood?
Answer: The metaphorical fever is symbolic of the constant worries, stresses, and disappointments of grown-up responsibilities weighing down the poet’s spirit. In contrast to the carefree coolness provided by summer pools in childhood, the fever represents the burning exhaustion and discontentment of spirit brought on by the troubles of adulthood.
10. What was the poet’s childhood perspective about the treetops and sky?
Answer: He thought the treetops touched the sky.
11. How does the poet describe his childhood perspective now?
Answer: As childish ignorance.
12. What does the poet’s adulthood wisdom fail to provide?
Answer: Despite gaining more knowledge and experience with age, the poet expresses that his adult wisdom does not provide the childlike happiness, innocence, and closeness to heaven that he possessed in his naive childhood ignorance. His learnedness as a grown-up thus seems hollow in comparison.
13. What is the main theme expressed in the poem?
Answer: Childhood innocence and joy surpass the disillusionments of adulthood.
14. Does the poet portray childhood or adulthood more positively?
Answer: Childhood is portrayed more positively.
1. What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?
A. AABBCCDD B. ABABCDCD C. ABCBDEFE D. ABBACCAA
Answer: C. ABCBDEFE
2. What had the poet’s brother planted?
A. A rose bush B. A laburnum tree C. A bed of violets D. An oak tree
Answer: B. A laburnum tree
3. How does the poet’s spirit feel in adulthood?
A. Light as a feather B. Free as a bird C. Heavy as lead D. Smooth as silk
Answer: C. Heavy as lead
4. What cools the poet’s ‘fever’ in childhood?
A. The violets B. The oak tree C. The summer pools D. The roses
Answer: C. The summer pools
5. What type of trees did the poet think reached the sky?
A. Palm trees B. Pine trees C. Fir trees D. Apple trees
Answer: C. Fir trees
6. The poet views his childhood perspective now as:
A. Wise and learned B. Foolish and ignorant C. Practical and realistic D. Hopeful and imaginative
Answer: B. Foolish and ignorant
7. What feeling pervades the poem?
A. Optimism B. Pessimism C. Nostalgia D. Bitterness
Answer: C. Nostalgia
8. Which literary device is used in the first line of each stanza?
A. Alliteration B. Rhyme C. Repetition D. Anaphora
Answer: D. Anaphora
9. What has the poet lost from childhood to adulthood?
A. Vitality B. Creativity C. Innocence D. Patience
Answer: C. Innocence
10. What is the overall tone of the poem?
A. Somber B. Celebratory C. Humorous D. Hopeful
Answer: A. Somber
11. Which movement does the poem’s style reflect?
A. Modernism B. Realism C. Romanticism D. Naturalism
Answer: C. Romanticism
12. What does the poet wish for?
A. To relive his childhood B. To forget memories C. To avoid responsibilities D. To embrace adulthood
Answer: A. To relive his childhood
13. Which best describes the poet’s tone?
A. Nostalgic B. Bitter C. Optimistic D. Humorous
Answer: A. Nostalgic
14. What imagery depicts the poet’s childhood freedom?
A. The fir trees B. The lilies C. The swing D. The roses
Answer: C. The swing
15. What does the fever represent?
A. Childhood illness B. Adulthood troubles C. Excitement on the swing D. Hard work in school
Answer: B. Adulthood troubles
16. When did the brother plant the laburnum tree?
A. In winter B. On his birthday C. In spring D. Every morning
Answer: B. On his birthday
17. Which is portrayed more positively?
A. Adulthood B. School days C. Childhood D. Senior years
Answer: C. Childhood
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