NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English Poetry Hornbill A Photograph by Shirley Toulson
1. Infer the meaning of the following words from the context.
(a)padding : moving a small boat through water using a paddle
(b) transient : continuing for only a short time
Think It Out
1. What does the word 'cardboard' denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?
'Cardboard' refers to the frame of the photograph showing the poet’s mother in her childhood. The word has been used to depict the old fashioned,
inexpensive frame used as the border of the photograph.
2. What has the camera captured?
The camera has captured a scene of happy moments from the childhood of the poet's mother. She has been to a beach 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 as it is still the same. The sea symbolises immortality and eternity which is used in contrast to the mortal human life.
4. The poet's mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?
This laugh indicated that the poet’s mother fondly remembered the joyful days of her childhood. She recalled those fun filled past days with nostalgia and laughed at the way they were dressed up for the sea holiday.
5. What is the meaning of the line "Both wry with the labored ease of loss".
The line refers to the sea holiday as recollected by her mother and the poet. Though the mother fondly remembered the good old times of her childhood, there was a sense of loss as she realised that those happy moments would never come back. The poet was also happy remembering her mother's laughing face but she too felt the loss as her mother was no more. Thus both fondly remembered their pasts but they also experienced the pain of their loss.
6. What does "this circumstance" refer to?
'This circumstance' refers to the present situation of the poet. While remembering the past she feels sad about the loss of her mother. While looking at the photograph and thinking of her mother's laughter, the poet also realises that it has been the same number of years since her mother died as her mother's age in the photograph.