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NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Poem Chapter 1:A Photograph

This is a poem composed by Shirley Toulson that has themes of nostalgia and melancholy. The poem can be considered to be a tribute to her mother. In the poem, the poet talks about finding a photograph of her mother, which evokes fond memories.

The poet Shirley Toulson found a childhood picture of her mother. In the picture, her mother was around 12 years old and with her, on both sides were her cousins, Betty and Dolly. The picture is from the time when her mother went on a beach holiday for paddling. The poet recalls that her uncle took the picture.

In the picture, the poet saw her mother holding hands with her cousins, standing near the water. Seeing the water touching her mother's feet, the poet sadly expresses that even though her mother went through changes due to ageing, the sea remained unchanged. The poet recalls that it was 20 or 30 years after the photo was taken, the poet's mother would happily bring out the photo and show it to her. Her mother would tell her stories of how their parents would take them for holidays on the beach and got them dressed for the holiday. The poet's mother would cheerfully recall the beach holiday as her favourite childhood memory with a laugh. To the poet, her mother's cheerful laughter in these moments is the most cherished memories of her.

The poet longingly looks at her mother's sweet young face in the picture and, with much regret, accepts that those moments exist only in her memories as her mother is no longer alive. The poet sorrowfully makes a connection that in the picture, her mother's age is 12, which is the same amount of time since she passed away. This evokes an overwhelming sense of grief in the poet, which she cannot express. She feels that death has not just silenced her mother's sweet laughter and cheerful voice as she recalled her childhood memories. However, it has also silenced the poet into a state of speechlessness.


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