reflective poems

3 Poems to Help You Reflect on The Past

Reflection is essential in everyone’s life. It is an inner action that helps us analyze our own existence. However, introspection can be harsh at times because it evokes memories and challenging moments. So, what better way to reflect than with poetry? Make yourself comfortable, grab your favorite beverage, and reflect on these poems.


“I Remember, I Remember” by Thomas Hoods  

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
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!   


Childhood is a very crucial time, and in this first stanza, Hoods recalls his infancy home and brings us on his nostalgic voyage. He is held in the present, daydreaming about the past. The last two lines shatter the delusion dividing the memory from reality. These lines also reveal the poet’s wish of being dead before adulthood. Nothing compares to the happiness he felt during childhood years.


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!


The second stanza is a recollection of nature’s beauty, distinguishing the division between Hoods’ idyllic past and his new reality. The exclamation, “The tree is living yet!” establishes the physical vestige of his enchanted era. Sometimes, we seek our pleasure in the past without seeing it in the present. As you reflect, highlight a joy you cherish right now.                        


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!


Here, in the third stanza, Hood describes his untroubled days. However, his soul has become heavy over the years and he is weighed down by problems and worries weigh that did not haunt him as a little boy. Life hurts, but life heals too. Consider an issue you resolved beautifully.


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 ’tis little joy
To know I’m farther off from heav’n
Than when I was a boy.  

In the final stanza, Hoods expresses how much older he is and how he misses his “childish ignorance;” even though he has gained wisdom, he misses the bliss of innocence.       


“Piano” by D. H. Lawrence                 

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;

Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see

A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling string

And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.


“Piano” sets a nostalgic mood from the first word and presents two scenes: one in which a woman sings at the end of the day and the other a reminiscence of the poetic “I.” Drawn in by the woman’s voice, the speaker recollects. Music has teleporting power; it can take us back in time to a specific person, place, or sentiment.   


In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song

Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong

To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside

And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.


This second stanza carries the power of the song; it conveys the poet’s recollections. He is, again, plunged into his past. He desires to go back, to feel everything once more.


So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour

With the great black piano appassionato.

The glamour Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast

Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.


In the third and final stanza, the speaker struggles with present and past delight, feeling the great sadness of not being able to return to his childhood.    


“Remorse” by Emily Dickinson 

Remorse – is Memory – awake –

Her Parties all astir –

A Presence of Departed Acts –

At window – and at Door –


We all have regrets of some kind, and we relive them when we think of our past behaviors. Dickinson refers to our regrets as “Departed Acts,” personifying them waiting at our windows and doors. 


It’s Past – set down before the Soul

And lighted with a Match –

Perusal – to facilitate –

And help Belief to stretch – 


As the setting sun behind the mountain, remorse is there to darken our souls. We all make mistakes, but what is important is what we learn from them.     


Remorse is cureless – the Disease

Not even God – can heal –

For ’tis His institution – and

The Adequate of Hell –     


In the last stanza of the poem, Dickinson claims that remorse has no cure. Despite the pessimistic nature of the poem, we must remember that remorse can ultimately be pardoned when we forgive ourselves. Have you forgiven yourself already?