Summary of ‘A Photograph’
(By: Shirley Toulson)
This poem begins with poet’s holding a cardboard and recollecting the memories of her mother and latter’s sea holiday. According to the poet, her mother was 12 years old at that time and had gone to a sea holiday with her cousins namely Betty and Dolly along with their uncle who was clicking their pictures. They all were enjoying, paddling and smiling through their hair while their uncle was taking up their pic.
Now the poet recalls the moment when her mother’s picked up that photograph twenty or thirty years later and blamed Betty and Dolly for her dress which she had worn during that sea holiday. She would always look at the photo and wished that she could get her that time back.
The poet mentions about the difference between the sea and the transient feet of her mother and her cousins. According to her, the sea remains unchanged whereas her mother is gone who would never come back again. For her mother, her sea holiday was her past and for the poet, her mother’s laughter was her past which will never return.
At the end of the poem, the poet expresses her inability to share anything with readers. On this circumstance, she has nothing to say. She likes to keep calm and remain lost in her mother’s memory who is no more in this world.
Important Questions with Answers
Q1. What is the tone of this poem? Why is the poet so sad?
Ans. The tone of this poem is extremely sad which highlights the bereavement of her from her mother. She is upset because she can’t get her mother back even after wishing.
Q2. What has the camera captured?
Ans. The camera has captured the picture of poet’s mother and her two cousins who were enjoying at the sea.
Q3. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?
Ans. According to the poet, the sea has not changed over the years. It is as same as it was earlier but the footprints of her mother’s footsteps have been washed. It suggest that nature is everlasting but humans and their deeds are not.
Q4. Why did the poet’s mother laugh at the snapshots? What did this laugh indicate?
Ans. The poet’s mother laughed at her dressing sense while looking at the snapshot. Her laughter indicated that she was a very fun-loving and jolly personality who would look at her pic and remembered the moments spent with her cousins.
Q5. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the labored ease of loss.”
Ans. Here the poet means that they both (she and her mother) tried their level best to ease the loss of their past but all in vain. Her mother wanted to get her sea holiday back whereas she wants her mother’s laughter back.
Q6. Why does the poet not want to speak anymore at the end?
Ans. The poet feels pained while remembering her mother and does not want to hurt herself anymore. Therefore, she does not want to speak anymore at the end.
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