Justify the title of the poem "The Photograph" by Shirley Toulson.

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Toulson's poem "The Photograph", Touslon describes the emotions felt as remembering the story behind the image and what it means to the poet now.

Photographs capture a moment in time, and with that capture the emotions felt during the moment the photo was taken as well.

For the poet, the images brings out feelings of loss given her mother has passed away (12 years prior). The poet remembers her mother looking at the image and laughing as she recalled the moment in time.

The title of the poem represents something very different for the poet than it dis for her mother. The image evokes a sadness of the loss of her mother, while it evoked thoughts of happiness for her mother.

Materialistically, the poet can find sadness that those depicted in the image have changed while the scenery in the photo has been allowed to stay the same. Here, the poet could sense a feeling of the memory being unfair given the ocean has been allowed to exist, without change, over the years while her mother has changed dramatically and is now gone.

Therefore, the title of the poem creates a double meaning for both the poet and the poet's mother. For one it is sadness and the other is happiness. The poet finds this ironic given her saddness is associated with her mother's happiness.

Another justification behind the title lies in the fact that a photograph captures something seen by many and can, therefore, evoke many different feelings for those depicted and those looking at the image.