The Living Photograph

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by peironglim
Last updated 5 years ago

Discipline:
World Languages
Subject:
English
Grade:
10

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The Living Photograph

Learning Objectives:After using this poster, the students should be able to: - 1. Relate the meaning of each stanza for the poem of "The Living Photograph" with their own words.2. Apply their understandings on the poem by completing the exercises given with 4 out of 6 correct answers.

Stanza 1My small grandmother is tall there,straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,a kind, old smile round her eyes.Her big hand holds mine, white hand in black hand.Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.

Figurative MeaningI see my grandmother in the photograph. She looks tall because I look much smaller next to her. She is obviously younger because her back is straight. She does not have the hunch that I have seen her with. She is dressed in a pleated skirt and a shirt of a typical English design. It is a full-length photograph as I can see her flat shoes. Her greying hair is tied up in a bun. Her eyes display a kind smile that I am familiar with. She holds my small white hand in her big black ones. Her sharp blue eyes look as if she was dead.The poet is referring her Nigerian grandmother whose hands are black whereas the poet's hands are white because of her mixed blood.

Stanza 2It was true after all; that look.My tall grandmother became small.Her back round and hunched.Her soup forgot to boil.She went to the awful place grandmothers go.Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.

Stanza 3But there she is still,in the photo with me at three,the crinkled smile is still living, breathing.

Figurative MeaningThat look of fragility in her eyes came true. My ageing grandmother appeared smaller with a rounded hunched back. Her forgetfulness indicated her senility. And then she passed away. She died, just like other grandmothers I have known. Death has snatched her away to some strange and terrifying place.

Figurative MeaningDeath has snatched my grandmother away from me. But the photograph consoles me. She is still present in that photograph, living and breathing. Her smile is alive as ever.

The Living Photograph

Questions1. Describe the clothes the grandmother wears in the photograph. 2. Describe the grandmother when she was old.3. How old was the persona when the photograph was taken?4. What feature about the grandmother is repeated in the poem?5. Where did the grandmother go?6. Whose hands are darker, the grandmother's or the grandchild's?Answers1. The grandmother was wearing a white shirt of specific English design and a pleated skirt.2. The grandmother became smaller in stature because of a hunched back. She also became forgetful.3. She was three years old.4. The grandmother's smile is repeated in the poem.5. She passed away.6. The grandmother's hands are darker.

TestYour Knowledge

Glossary1. pleated: creased2. hunched: bent3. awful: dreadful4. unknown: unrecognised5. unthinkable: inconceivable6. crinkled: wrinkled

Extra Information

Written by: Jackie Kay

Form 4Literature:Poem


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