Here you get a photograph poem class 11 hornbill previous years paper questions and answers AHSEC Assam Board. Also get a summary of the poem and textual, important, extra notes. Short ncert solution question of Seba.


Summary of the Poem

Introduction: It is a beautiful poem presented as a tribute to her mother Shirley Toulson. Her mother is not alive but her memories in a tangible form like photographs continue to reside with the poetess.

Brief Description: The poem begins with the description of a photograph in which the mother of the poetess (around 12 years old at that time) is standing and enjoying holidays at the beach with two of her cousins, Betty and Dolly. Each of them is holding her mother's hands at the seashore. The photograph was taken by an uncle of the poetess and it shows three girls standing at the shore getting their feet washed by seawater.

The second phase describes the period 20 or 30 years later. Poetess' mother would laugh at the way they were being dressed up for the beach holiday. Here the poetess says that the sea beach holiday was her mother's past but her mother's laughter is a past for her now. The photograph revives the memory of losing her mother in the poem.

The third phase describes the death of the mother and tells us that when the poetess looks at the photograph she remembers her mother. She says nothing and accepts the silence of the circumstance.

Conclusion: The poem is actually presenting an ironic situation. On one side it is describing the happiness and happy moments in the photograph. On the other side, it is describing the loss and the silence that prevails after the death of a loved one.

Textual Question Answers

Think it out

1. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this
word been used?
Ans: In the poem, the word 'cardboard' has been used to refer to the photograph of the poet's mother with two of her cousins. The word has been used so because she is dead and hence her photograph remains mere cardboard.

2. What has the camera captured? (2012)
Ans: The camera took pictures of three girls. One of them is the poet's mother of about twelve years. She is accompanied by two cousins, each of whom is holding the hand of the poet's mother. They are standing on the beach and their feet are being washed with water. His smile is visible even in the midst of his flying hair.

3. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something
to you?
Ans: It is the sea that has not changed over the years. Whereas there has been a big change for the little girls who once enjoyed that beach. This suggests that human life and the human body are physically destructible but nature and its components are eternal and never change.

4. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh
indicate? (2014, 15, 17)
Ans: This laugh indicates her remembering her past. She looked back to her childhood with nostalgia and remembered the innocent joys of her childhood days. She was recalling the memory of the sea trip and laughing about the way everyone was dressed. She was apparently recalling all that happened back in those days of the trip and reliving the memories so as to make herself feel happy at present too.

5. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease of
loss.” (2012)
Ans: Ans: The line expresses the similarity between the facial expressions of her mother and herself. Both faces had turned very owing to the terrible feeling of loss in their respective lives. The mother was sad about the absence of a happy and cheerful childhood. The poet had turned sad at the loss of her mother's laughter as the latter was dead.

6. What does “this circumstance” refer to?
Ans: The poet talks about her mental condition at present. The situation is very lonely and she feels unbearably sad without her mother's presence.

7. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they? (2018)
Ans: The first stanza describes the stage when the poet's mother was a little child of twelve years. The second phase portrays the happiest moments when the poet and her mother were together and the mother was in her thirties or forties. The third and last part of the poem refers to the poet's dejection of the present situation. She is terribly lonely and sad without her mother who has been dead for more than a decade.

Previous Years Notes

1. What has the camera captured? (2012)
Ans: See Question No. 2 (Think it out)

2. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease of
loss.” (2012)
Ans: See Question No. 5 (Think it out)

3. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh
indicate? (2014, 15, 17)
Ans: See Question No. 4 (Think it out)

4. Why would the poet's mother laugh at the snapshot? (2016)
Ans: The poet's mother would laugh at the snapshot because it reminded her of her happy childhood full of carefree enjoyment. The felt amused and nostalgic to look at her past days. She recalls those memories back.

5. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they? (2018)
Ans:  See Question No. 7 (Think it out)

6. Briefly evaluate the poet's attitude towards life as seen in the last stanza of the poem, 'A Photograph'. (2019)
Ans: The period of nearly twelve years since the poetess's mother passed away, has been painful for the poet. She can not hear her laughter anymore. There is only silence now. The period after the death of the poet's mother, the life of the poet has been dull and eventless. The void created by her death is slowly becoming less painful. The time that passes silently but steadily weakens old memories of loss and grief.

7. 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.
All three stood still to smile through their hair
At the uncle with the camera. 

(i) What does the cardboard show the poet?
Ans: The cardboard showed the poet the scene on the sea beach with three girls.

(ii) Who was 'the big girl'?
Ans: 'The big girl' was the poet's mother.

(iii) How old was the poet's mother when the photograph was clicked?
Ans: The poet's mother was twelve years old when the photograph was clicked.

(iv) Who clicked the photograph?
Ans: The uncle clicked the photograph.

(v) Write briefly what the girls did on the sea beach.
Ans: The poet's mother is on the beach with two of her girl cousins. Each of the cousins is holding one of the hands of the poet's mother who is older than them. the cousins are younger than her. The wind was blowing on the beach, the hair was flying on the girls' faces and they were very happy. Their smiles could be seen even through their hair. They were smiling at the person who was taking that snap at that time. It was their uncle who was capturing the three girls on his camera. While the young girls stood in the sea the water washed their mortal feet.  

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