ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SHIRLEY TOULSON, who lives in Somerset, was drawn into the spell of Celtic Christianity as she worked on her books dealing with the oldest roads and folklore of Britain and Ireland, and found herself following the routes taken on their journeys by the saints of the early church.
The poet remembers her mother who died about twelve years ago. There is a photograph taken when her mother had gone for a sea holiday with her cousins and her uncle. Looking at the photograph, she experiences the great loss of her mother.
SUMMARY IN ENGLISH
The poet looks at the photograph of her mother, which was taken when her mother was 12 years old. She had gone for a sea holiday with her cousins Betty and Dolly and while they were paddling, her uncle took a photograph of them. Each of the cousins was holding the hands of the poet’s mother who was the eldest among them. All the three of them stood smiling through their hair while the photo was taken. Her mother had a sweet face. All these happened before she was born. Years fled past since then. Her mother grew up into an adult. They all underwent changes while the sea stood still. After about twenty or thirty years the poet’s mother would look at the photograph laughing nostalgically and remembering the past. She would appreciate the dress worn by her cousins Betty and Dolly. The sea holiday belonged to the past of her mother and the poet still remembers how her mother would laugh looking at the snap shot. For the poet both these bring great sadness and an acute sense of loss. He mother died 12 years ago and now the poet has noting to say about this circumstance of the photograph.
UNDERSTANDING THE LESSON THROUGH KEY SENTENCES:
1. The poet looks at the cardboard on which there is a childhood photograph of her mother.
2. She had gone for a sea holiday with two her cousins Betty and Dolly
3. While they were paddling, their uncle took a photograph of them.
4. Both the cousins were holding the hands of her mother who was the eldest among the girls.
5. This was before the poet was born
6. Time fled past since and all those who are in the photograph under went changes while the sea remained the same.
7. Her mother would look at the photograph after about twenty to thirty years and laugh nostalgically.
8. Now for the poet her mother’s laughter and her sea holiday is a thing of the past.
9. Her mother died about 12 years ago.
10. The silence of the photograph silences the poet.
11. She experiences great loss.
TEXT BOOK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?
‘Cardboard’ refers to the photograph only. In the past photographs used to be fixed to a cardboard and hung from the wall for every one to see it.
2. What has the camera captured?
The camera has captured some happy moments from the childhood of the poet’s mother. It was a scene taken from a beach where she had gone with her cousins and her uncle for a sea holiday. The girls were paddling in the water.
3. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?
The sea has not changed over the years. It is still the same. The sea symbolizes eternity.
4. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?
This laugh indicates her remembering her past. She looked back to her childhood with nostalgia and remembered the innocent joys of her childhood days.
5. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease or loss”
‘Both’ refers to the sea holiday as remembered by her mother and the poet remembering her mother’s laughing face. Both these now belong to the past. Her mother is no more now.
6. What does “this circumstance” refer to?
‘This circumstance’ refers to the circumstance when the photo was taken.
7. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?
The three stanzas depict three different phases. The first stanza refers to the childhood of the poet’s mother. The second stanza refers to the poet’s childhood when her mother was an adult. The last stanza refers to the poet’s adulthood when she is not with her mother.
ADDITIONAL SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. What scene from mother’s childhood has been captured in the photograph? Who had taken the photograph?
The scene that has been captured in the photograph is from mother’s childhood when she went for paddling with her two cousins. Mother’s uncle had taken the photograph.
2. How did the cousins accompany mother for paddling?
Her cousins accompanied mother by holding her hands when they went for paddling.
3. Explain the contrast given in the last two lines of the first stanza.
The contrast is between the sea and the humans. The sea had remained the same for all these years, but the humans have undergone changes. Her mother grew up and now she had been dead for the past twelve years.
4. How does the poet feel when she remember the sea holiday of her mother?
The poet feels sad when she remembers the sea holiday of her mother. Her mother died twelve years ago.
5. Why doesn’t she want to think about the photograph any more?
She doesn’t want think about the photograph any more because it brings the pain of loss to her mind.
REFERENCE PASSAGE QUESTIONS
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.
a. What does the cardboard refer to?
The cardboard refers to the childhood photograph of her mother.
b. Who was the big girl and how old was she?
The big girl was the poet’s mother. She was then twelve years old.
c. How did the cousins go paddling with mother?
The girl cousins went paddling with mother holding her hand.
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
a. Who does ‘all three’ refer to here?
‘all three’ refers to the poet’s mother and her two cousins.
b. Where are they now?
They have gone to the seashore. They are paddling in the water.
c. Why did they smile through their hair?
They smiled through their hair because they were posing for a photograph.
…………………………………………………..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.
a. Where was her mother?
Her mother was on the sea shore with her cousins and posing for a photograph.
b. When did this incident took place?
This incident took place when she was twelve years old.
c. How is the poet able to remember her mother’s childhood?
The poet is able to remember her mother’s childhood when she looks into the photograph of her mother.
d. What has stood the onslaught of time and what has not?
The sea has stood the onslaught of time. It is still the same. However, her mother and her cousins underwent changes. Her mother grew up to be an adult and now she is no more.
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.”
a. Who would laugh at the snapshot after twenty – thirty years later?
The poet’s mother would laugh at the snapshot after twenty – thirty years later.
b. How did mother remember her past?
Mother remembered her past with nostalgia.
c. Who were Betty and Dolly?
Betty and Dolly were her cousins who had gone with her to the beach for paddling.
6. ………………………………… The sea holiday
was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry
With the laboured ease of loss
a. Who went for the sea holiday in the past?
The poet’s mother had gone for the sea holiday in the past when she was a young girl.
b. What does ‘both’ refer to?
‘Both’ refers to the poet’s mother remembering her past sea holiday as well as the poet remembering her mother’s laughter.
c. How does the poet feel when she remembers her mother?
The poet experiences great sorrow when she remembers her mother who left for heavenly abode twelve years ago.
Now she’s has been dead nearly as many years
As that girl lived. And of this circumstance
There is nothing to say at all,
Its silence silences.
a. How many years are over after the death of her mother?
Her mother died 12 years ago.
b. What does ‘this circumstance’ refer to?
‘This circumstance’ refers to the sea holiday enjoyed by her mother.
c. Why has the poet nothing to say about this circumstance?
The poet has nothing to say about this circumstance as the memory of it brings pain to her.
d. What impact has the photograph on the poet?
The silence of the photograph silences the poet. She experiences the great loss of her mother.