A photograph
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A photograph

A Photograph

Shirley Toulson


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The cardboard shows me how it was

When the two girl cousins went paddling,

Each one holding one of my mother's hands,

And she the big girl- some twelve years or so .


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All three stood still to smile through their hair

At the uncle with the camera. A sweet face,

My mother's, that was before I was born.

And the sea, which appears to have changed less,

Washed their terribly transient feet.


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Some twenty - thirty - years later

She'd laugh at the snapshot. "See Betty

And Dolly," she'd say, "and look how they

Dressed us for the beach." The sea holiday

Was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry

With-the laboured ease of loss.


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Now she's been dead nearly as many years

As that girl lived. And of this circumstance

There is nothing to say at all.

Its silence silences.


Main idea

Main Idea

  • Death can numb you and leave you at a loss of words. The finality of death and the loss cannot be expressed in words. Death can silence you and leave you speechless" ....... " it's silence silences".......

  • the mother missed her past, and found it amusing , and the daughter missed her past with her mother (i.e. the time she spent with her mother when she was alive).

  • The words "transient feet" has a special significance--- they show how transient, temporary human life is as compared to nature.


Test

4. The poet realises that she has lost her mother, and so that "laboured ease of loss" sets in.“laboured ease of loss" because : --- it is difficult for her to forget her mother and put behind her past and move on.--- it has ease because the pain of the loss is reduced with time. TIME acts as a healer and the daughter moves on.So, even though she hasn't really forgotten her mother, but then she is not even in as great a pain now ( 12 years after her mother’s death) as she was when her mother died.


Summary

Summary

The poet recalls the memory of her late mother, gazing at the frame, where the photograph of her mom along with cousins Betty and Dolly in their pre-teens. The photo refers to one of their visits to the sea-beach. At that time, the mother's face had the sweetness of a young girl. Transient feet refers to the transience of life. She recalls how mom had looked at the photo 20-30 yrs later and laughed at the attires that she and her cousins were wearing. The sea holiday was a thing of past for her. Her smiling face had become a thing of the past for the poet just as the mother’s childhood had been for her. Both of them( mom and poet) now move on despite the losses.Now, she has been dead for about 12 years. The void in the life of the poet is the ‘silence’ and gloom that she feels.


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