The Photograph

The photograph

Every creature in the universe has a start and a finish. Your and our lives are, in fact, a journey that begins at a certain point and ends at an unknown time. We feel and look different at different stages of our life journey.  Our preferences and dislikes change with age and time. If you want to see how life changes through time, pay attention to little children, toddlers, teenagers, adults, middle-aged people, and the elderly. Inquire about their likes and dislikes, as well as their feelings. I am confident you will receive a wide range of responses from them. It is also true that we can recall the past memory of our life journey in a few seconds. If you want to see your fantastic childhood, just close your eyes and look at the past pictures of your playschools days.

As we know there are multiple ways to store the memory of the past. Could anyone tell me some resources/tools by which we may record our memory?

  1. Has anyone of you seen your childhood photograph?
  2. Do you have any recent photographs of yours and your family captured in a wedding ceremony?
  3. Did you see your grandpa/grandma’s pictures or portraits hanging on the wall in your home?

If I ask you to divide the life span of your grandfather, in how many stages will you divide his whole life? Well, In broader terms-

  1. Childhood
  2. Adulthood
  3. Old age

Watch the video carefully and answer the following questions-

  • Could you recall some amazing moments of your childhood?
  • Can you describe the appearance of any child?
  • Write some characteristics of teenagers?
  • How will you describe your grandpa and grandma?

Model Reading By Teacher

Line 1-4

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

Difficult words:

cardboard: thick, stiff paper that is used to make boxes and models or portraits.

Paddling: walking

Big girl: here, Poet’s mother

Comprehension Questions-

  1. Who is narrating the poem? The poet or poet’s mother?
  2. Who are holding mother’s hand?
  3. How many girls are in the picture?
  4. Who is the eldest?
  5. What does the picture show? Happiness or sadness?


The poet is looking at an old cardboard photo album when he writes these lines. Three young women are pictured walking on the beach while holding each other’s hands. The tallest and eldest girl is in the middle, while the other two girls on either side are younger. The poet’s mother is the girl in the middle. When the photo was taken, she was about twelve years old.

Line 5-9

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

Difficult words:

Still: Static, Transient feet: lasting only for short time, Temporary

Comprehension Questions-

  1. Whose pictures are still in the frame?
  2. How is the emotion of the poet’s mother in the picture?
  3. Why has changed less poet mentioned in this poem?
  4. Could you guess the age of the picture the poet is talking about here?


The poet tells how the photograph was shot. The shot was taken by her mother’s uncle, who instructed them to stop and pose. All three of them smiled at the camera, their damp hair open. The poet is drawn to his mother’s face, which is characterized as having a “lovely face.” Long before the poet was born, this shot was taken. Because they were so youthful at the time and had now grown older, the poet refers to their feet as “awful transitory.” On the other hand, the sea beneath their feet has remained relatively unchanged.

Line 10-13

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

Comprehension Questions-

  1. Who would laugh before 20-30 years ago?
  2. She’d laugh at the snapshot. Who says this line for whom?
  3. Who are Betty and Dolly?
  4. Who are dressed up for the beach walk?


She (poet’s mother) would giggle at the photograph after twenty-three years. She’d tell me to look at her cousins Betty and Dolly, and how their parents would dress them all up for the beach. They would have arranged ahead of time to take a photograph.


Was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry
With the laboured ease of loss.
Wry Showing that you find a bad situation slightly funny

Comprehension Questions-

  1. Whose laughter does the poet indicate here?
  2. What is the past of the poet’s mother in this poem?
  3. Do you think the poet is disappointed to see her mother’s photograph here?


The poet recalls her mother’s favourite childhood memory of a sea vacation. Her mother’s laughing was the poet’s favourite memory from the past. Both women would reflect on memories from the past that they would never be able to relive. They tried their best to adjust to what they lost.

Line 16 – 19

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.

Comprehension Questions-

  1. Who is dead the poet referring to in this line?
  2. How many years before the poet’s mother has passed away?
  3. Why the poet says this line, ” There is nothing to say at all.
    Its silence silences.”


The poet says that her mother died twelve years ago, the same age as her mother in the photograph, in the preceding lines. When the poet considers her mother’s death, she is unable to articulate the impact it has on her. Her mother has been hushed by death, which has rendered her silent.

Summary of the Poem

The poem is written in honour of the poet’s mother. She’s staring at an old image of her mother with a cardboard frame. The painting depicts three girls, the oldest and tallest of whom is in the middle.

Her mother, when she was about twelve years old. Her two cousins, Betty and Dolly, who are younger than her, are standing beside her on both sides, holding her hands. On a beach vacation, they went paddling. The photo was taken by her uncle at the time. The poet couldn’t take her gaze away from her mother’s lovely features. The waves brushed against her flimsy feet, indicating that she had changed over time while the sea stayed the same.

Her mother would giggle at the photograph after twenty-three years. She’d make the poet look at the photo and describe how their parents would dress them for a beach vacation. Her mother’s favourite previous memory was a beach vacation, while the poet’s favourite recollection was her giggle. Both of them have lost something they treasured, and they will never be able to relive that experience.

Those tender moments were now but memories.

Now, the poet’s mother had been dead for twelve years, which was the same number as her age at the time the portrait was shot. She is unable to convey her sorrow over her mother’s absence.

Project Work

Story writing: Group of 4 students are assigned to compose a short story on ‘ My Childhood’.

Speech writing: Write a short speech on, Role of Mother.

Group Discussion: Parenting is big challenge for married couples.


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