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Summary of "I Remember I Remember" by 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.

I Remember I Remember - Summary

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 in the refrain “I remember I remember”.               

In the first stanza, the poet talks about the house where he was born. His remembrance of the sun peeping through the window in the morning indicates his childish ignorance. The passing day from morning till night gives pleasure to the child. Hence the day does not either end early or prolonged. However, at present, the poet wishes for the night to take away his breath. His desire to die 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 which is the darkness which means distress in 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 that his brother planted on his birthday. The line “The tree is still alive!” might convey two meanings. The first one is, that the person who planted it, that is his brother, is no longer where the tree is living.  The second one is, that 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, and he swung very fast to feel the rush of the fresh air. He was like feathers which flew 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 a long distance away 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 which is a recollection of his past.

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