The Poem 'Past and Present' or I Remember I Remember - Everything You Need to Know About the Poem

In this poem Thomas Hood seems to be expressing how he is looking back on to his past. This poem is the recollection of his childhood. Each stanza of

Past and Present

I remember, I remember,

The house where I was born,

The little window where the sun

Came peeping in at morn;

He never came to a wink too soon,

Nor brought too long a day,

But now, I often wish the night

Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,

The roses, red and white,

The vi’lets, and the lily-cups,

Those flowers made of light!

The lilacs where the robin built,

And where my brother set

The laburnum on his birthday,

The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,

Where I was used to swing,

And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing;

My spirit flew in feathers then,

That is so heavy now,

And summer pools could hardly cool

The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,

The fir trees dark and high;

I used to think their slender tops

Were close against the sky:

It was a childish ignorance,

But now ‘this little joy

To know I’m farther off from heav’n

Than when I was a boy.

Word Meanings:

  1. Tis: Short form of it is

  2. Laburnum: A small tree with racemes of the golden flower

  3. Morn: Short Form Of Morning

  4. Robin: A European Bird

  5. Slender : Thin

Important Question Answers: 

1. Who composed this poem?

Ans: Thomas Hood composed this poem.

2. What is the poem about?

 Ans: The poem is about childhood life.

3. What does the poet remember in the first stanza?

Ans: In the first stanza, the poet remembers his childhood, the house where he was born, and those beautiful days when sun rays came peeping through his window in the morning.

4. What does he wish in the first stanza?

Ans: In the first stanza, he wishes the night that his tiredness would go away when the night falls.

5. What does he remember in the second stanza?

Ans: In the second stanza, he remembers his childhood where he used to see and feel the beautiful colors of roses and lilies and lilacs.

6. How does the poet describe his childhood in the third stanza?

Ans: In the third stanza, the poet describes his childhood showing the contrasting experience of his past and present. He vividly remembers how he used to swing, enjoy the breeze and wind. In the same way, he was all energetic and high in spirit. But now, he does not have the energy to lift his spirit. The water in the pool was cool and pleasant but now it is not cool enough to cool his fever.

7. Was the poet really closer to heaven when he was a child? Why does he think so?

Ans: Yes, the poet was really closer to heaven when he was a child. He thinks so because childhood life is a very innocent stage in which there is no tension and risk of doing work.

General Summary for The Students:

In this poem, Thomas Hood seems to be expressing how he is looking back on his past. This poem is a recollection of his childhood. Each stanza of the poem contrasts innocence with experience, the lost world of childhood, idealized by memory, with an adult world marked by regrets and a sense of loss. When people grow up they begin to wonder and think about things that happened during their youth. In the beginning, the poem has a happy feeling but the last few lines seem depressing.

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Summary of the Poem Past and Present In Detail -Thomas Hood

The poem “I Remember I Remember” is written by Thomas Hood. The poem is in first-person narration and it consists of four stanzas. In each stanza, the poet compares his present adulthood life with his past childhood days. The poet thinks that his childhood life was a pleasant one when compared with the painful present one. His longing and desire to regain his childhood days are clearly seen from the refrain “I remember I remember”.

In the first stanza, the poet talks about the house where he was born. His remembrances of the sun peeping through the window in the morning indicate his childish ignorance. The passing day from morning till night gives pleasure to the child. Hence the day does not either end early or prolong. However, at present, the poet wishes for the night to take away his breath. His desire to death indicates his painful life. The contrast between the past and the present is clear through the portrayal of the sun and daytime which means a brighter and happier part of his life. In the present, he longs for the night that is the darkness which means distress of life.

The poet moves from his house into the garden in the second stanza. In the garden as a child, the poet looked at the variety of flowers like red and white roses, violets, lilies, and lilacs. He believed that those flowers are heavenly blessed flowers. Later he talks about the laburnum which his brother has planted on his birthday. The line “The tree is still living yet!” might convey two meanings. The first one is, the person, who has planted it, that is his brother, is no more where the tree is living.  The second one is, the tree is living and growing but the poet is decaying.

The third stanza talks about the swinging of the poet in his past. As a child, he was vital and energetic, who swings very fast to feel the rush of the fresh air. He was like feathers that fly quickly but now he is heavy. This stanza contrasts youthful physical feelings of vitality and ease with the heaviness of the presence. This stanza also talks about his physical decline. Summer is cherished in the country in which the poet was born. Even such a wonderful summer could not heal his fever which might mean his sadness or physical sickness.

In the fourth stanza, the poet contrasts the child’s close relationship with heaven with the rational knowledge of the grownups who lost faith in spirituality. During his childhood days, he imagined that the top of the dark and huge fir tree was close to heaven. At present, he understood it as childish ignorance. With such ignorance, he lived happily in the past. Now the rational mind gives him no joy but makes him feel that heaven is in a long-distance for him to reach.

The poet’s looking at the past with nostalgia gives the impression that the present is painful.  The title of the poem signifies the act of remembering. The frequent usage of the word remembering in the poem indicates the dominant motive of the poem that is the recollection of his past.

The Video Lesson for the Poem Past and Present

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