Friday, 19 June 2015

SPM English Literature : Poem : The Living Photograph

Assalamualaikum WBT,

This is the first poem that I want to share with you all.

Poem 1 : The Living Photograph

The Living Photograph

My 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 the black hand.
Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.

It 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

But there she is still,
In the photo with me at three,
The crinkled smile is still living, breathing.

Jackie Kay

Now, interpreting other's poem, we need to study the poet background first, then we can relate with what he or she was trying to convey. 


As you can see there, the poet's name is Jackie Kay which was born  November 9 1961 in Edinburgh, Scotland to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. Her parents gave her away for adoption to white Scottish parents (John and Helen Kay) who brought her up in Glasgow with great affection. The grandmother in the poem above was her adoptive grandmother who also loved her as much as her biological parents. Thus, from an early age, Jackie Kay was often baffled by her ethnic identity as she looked "coloured" compared to her adoptive "white" grandmother and adoptive parents. This poem, like many other by Jackie Kay, reflects her generally happy, childhood, as well as her concerns about her true 'biracial' ethnic identity.

About the poem

The persona captured two images of her adoptive grandmother -one seen in the photograph when the persona was three years old and another image of her grandmother as the lady became older and finally passed away. The persona resonates with the memories of many young people who have lost their beloved grandparents. 


1. Appreciation and affection for a grandparent
2. Search for the persona's identity
3. The mystery of ageing and death
4. Filial piety ( Virtue respect for one's ancestor )

Moral Value

1. Filial piety
2. Inter-racial harmony

Tone/Mood of Poem

The poet used childlike voice but with confident and optimistic despite her reference to the grandmother's death.

Persona or Speaker

The persona in the poem is a child who grows from the age of three in the photograph to a more mature age.

Point of View

It was narrated by the persona in the first person

Language and Style

Persona and Child Talk
Contrasting Imagery
Descriptive Details.

Now, that is all for now, I will include more information from time to time and this is not the last entry you see from me. Yes. I have the Charge of the Light Brigade that I need to tell you more on.


Assalamualaikum WBT

p/s: Hope you could find something here, love.


  1. can i copy these informations for my coursework?

  2. Yes.. of course. U can. Good luck and be great.

  3. bro i need......the synopsis of this poem for my homework

    1. could u please give me ur email address? tq

    2. bro...can you paste your synopsis of this poem on the next entry??

    3. sure. see u on the next entry.

  4. bro i need......the synopsis of this poem for my homework

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. how about the literary devices ? can you explain it to me ?

    1. hi dear, could please leave ur email address? its easier for me to explain it to u, thanks.

    2. thankyou so much.

    3. . thankyou so much :)

  7. i really need to know the literal meaning and figurative meaning cause i keep on make some silly meaning...

  8. This is a burning question, has been playing in my mind for quite some time ⌚⌛⏰ now... The line... White hand ✋ in black hand... Whose hand is white? The grandmother �� or the grandchild?

    1. the hands belongs to the grandmother.
      because it happened to be Jackie the author has darker skin. her father was a Nigerian.

  9. Hi , could you explain to me about the literary devices ? x

  10. need more themes.....