Ernestine Northover

Veteran Poet - 1,721 Points (25th March 1943)

The Old Photographs - Poem by Ernestine Northover

I sit and look at photographs of relations that used to be,
Some I remember from childhood, some related more distantly,
Their faces often smiling, or serious and stern,
Some looking very peaceful and gentle in their turn.

There are a few in sepia tint, but a lot in black and white,
And looking at their expressions, one does start wondering quite
What it would be like to meet them, and ask them how things were,
When they were living in those days, to me it's just a blur.

Work then was very arduous, long hours and little pay,
They did'nt have the 'luxuries' that we expect today,
Up with the lark, weather fine or foul, cold or sweltering heat,
Walking many miles to work, gathering blisters on their feet.

They had no central heating to keep away the bitter chill,
And they had no reliable medicine, if they were taken ill,
There was no NHS* to care, they were out there on their own,
And if they really needed help, they didn't have a phone.

Washing by hand was physically hard, when winter started to bite,
The wash tub and the mangle, were really no delight,
They must have been much stronger and tougher, in those days,
But even so, they must have been worn out in many ways.

They didn't have the appliances, to help them get things done,
Their daily chores took up the day, and I'm sure that was no fun,
They went to bed, when the dark set in, unless with candles lit,
They would gather together around the fire, and talk a little bit.

Knitting, crochet and embroidery were for women folk to do,
During the spare time that they had, perhaps they enjoyed it too,
For there were no television sets, but a piano was highly treasured,
With a pair of hands upon the keys, with what songs they could be pleasured.

And then along come the marching soldiers, of the first world war,
Did they have any inkling, of what there was in store,
Their once so steady lifestyle, turned so upside down,
Bombs descending on the city, devastation all around.

The twenty-five years later, a world war once again,
To have to go once more and suffer, the worry and the pain,
The having to begin to put, their hearts back into living,
And try to not be bitter, and to think about forgiving.

So these photos tell a story, and if I could only seek
To know just how they lived their lives, if they could only speak,
I'd be so interested to know, and if they could only walk
Straight out of the photographs, then we could begin our talk.

© Ernestine Northover


Comments about The Old Photographs by Ernestine Northover

  • (5/22/2008 7:41:00 PM)

    Nostaligia penned evocatively and sensitively (I would expect no less from a poet of your calibre) . And although you wish you could chat with these sepia faces, you words tell the reader how much they have already told you - in your dreams perhaps, or from books penned long ago - or even through reading wonderful poems like this! Beautiful write.
    love, Allie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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  • (5/30/2006 9:30:00 AM)

    I think this is absolutely lovely! What a beautiful, skilled poem and how interesting, complete and perfect in form. Just perfect! (Report)Reply

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  • (5/9/2006 2:46:00 PM)

    I wonder if in the future there will be a machine that can rekindle voice imprints from materials left on walls floors etc....
    A thought provoking write from a great voice, love duncan
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  • (3/9/2006 3:15:00 PM)

    I love the link between past and present here. (Report)Reply

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  • (1/25/2006 10:48:00 PM)

    Ernestine,
    you have stoked the furnace of memories,
    long sinced past. The fire from those
    memories...from that furnace, to this
    very day, still warms me.
    Nickoli
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Poem Submitted: Sunday, September 4, 2005

Poem Edited: Thursday, May 20, 2010


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