In Sepia Tones

In Sepia Tones

A Poem by Christine Anne Shaw
"

(Great grandparents Lily and George)

"
From their ancestral blood I come,
their portrait stares straight back at me.
They stand enrobed in finest dress,
a picture of solemnity.
A moment captured for all time,
the day they joined as man and wife,
her arm through his, slim fingers linked
as they prepared to make a life.

His three piece suit, a watch and chain,
the lens portrays the married pair.
Her eyes flash steel, a wide brimmed hat,
a subtle hint of long dark hair.
Then at the fore a satin bow,
embellished with a floral spray,
a matching corsage on her coat,
a keepsake for their wedding day.

The coldness of insipid tones 
belie the warmth of their shared bed,
as thirteen children were conceived
and all were loved and daily fed.
While he a soldier fought abroad,
she ruled the roost and cracked the whip,
he made his way home when he could,
his leave of passage by troop ship.

Their years were tough and money short,
she rented rooms to earn a crust.
Three children died, three went to war,
their faith was strong, they shared a trust.
Accounts of where and how they lived
in public records have been traced,
these are no strangers,they are kin
and ones whom I'd be proud to face.

Now if the state of play reversed
and souls departed could return
to filter through a photograph,
I'm sure they'd think we've much to learn.
White goods have helped to cut down work,
with central heating far less toil,
more food, more clothes and better health,
no doubt they'd think we've all been spoiled.

© 2019 Christine Anne Shaw


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Well-done dear Chris! You have captured the inner essence of your grandparents in those stoic sepia photographs so vividly. Each generation back is that much more brave I think. They were made of stronger stuff than we. And all those children- how did those women survive that and struggle as hard as they did? You so skillfully describe the daunting of the day-to-day for them. They were giants. Your perfect poem is a great and fitting tribute, and needed reminder, of this.

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

11 Months Ago

Life must have been so very hard for them Annette. They were giants indeed. Thank you so much for re.. read more



Reviews

You indeed take that photograph and not only give it life but colour too. A lovely tribute in traditional verse to your grandparents Chris.

Posted 10 Months Ago


It is so nice to see how brilliantly you portray the love and life of your forebears. How difficult it must have been to raise a family at that time. The strength of the mother to endure all the trials and tribulations of rearing such a large clan of children. Surely they were unrecognized heroes of their day. Thank you for sharing.

Take care - Dave

Posted 10 Months Ago


This poem is amazing and awesome and more! You are so fortunate that family history can be traced readily from public records, Chris. I don't know anyone beyond my great grand parents. You take me back there, through that sepia-toned photograph, to that beautiful time, a time I hope will always exits somewhere in another realm. I'm very sentimental about old times. Thank you for sharing such beauty.

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Thank you DIVYA. I have been able to find out a great deal about my family going back over the years.. read more
I can see the sepia coloured image so well, and all the ladies did wear those big hats and bows, they are an image of other times when life was hard but yet easier than their parents had known, and so maybe they thought they were not too badly off. So many families cramped into one house, the dreadful diseases they suffered and yet families supported each other in a way not seen today.
Like you my family lived in a big city where poverty was rife and the family or wedding photo would be a very special possession with pride of place on the wall or mantle shelf. Maybe the agricultural families had more food, and less pollution but times were hard and we have lost a lot of the strength of character they had .... those wonderful sepia photos hold so many forgotten or untold stories...

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

You have summed up so well Stella, the way they used to live, and yes they had strength of character.. read more
without a doubt they would think us all soft and daft, wonderful poetry of one family life's portrayal, I can't even imagine how they kept food for so long, they knew the secrets of survival that we don't or did and forgotten, somehow they made us out of dirt and rock with only the cattle to help them, livestock if they were lucky.

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

I think you are right Corset, they would certainly think us soft :) They made a little go a long way.. read more
I too have written poems based on family snaps . . . great fun to image what life was like for my ancestors who came to the 'new world' from Norfolk, England in 1795. He surveyed for one Joseph Priestly and earned a wilderness spot in Pennsylvania. Of course . . . no photos to ponder, but only in my imagination. Good poem by the way. Thanks for sharing your history.

Tom

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Thanks for sharing your story Tom. I am fascinated by the lives my ancestors led. I have been doing .. read more
I agree dear Chris. The people who survived wars and hard times. Must believe we have it very easy.

more food, more clothes and better health,
no doubt they'd think we've all been spoiled.

Thank you Chris for sharing the amazing poetry.
Coyote

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Dear Coyote, thank you for your response. Much appreciated.

Chris
Coyote Poetry

10 Months Ago

Was my pleasure dear Chris and you are welcome.
True, very true Chris. The thought of thirteen kids to feed, clothe and care for is mind boggling, and on a soldiers wage cant have been easy. Neither could being away on duty, missing out on all the fun and chaos of home life. But I expect the number of kids may have been higher if he was there more) :)
These days, if it doesnt have an app, it is too much work. Whether we have evolved or de-evolved I don't know, but it doesnt really feel like a step forward, does it?
Wonderful imagery of the lives and love captured in a frame. But im left wondering if it is sexist to say "poor bloody woman" :)

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Hello Lorry. You were missed and it's good to see you back. I'm inclined to agree, but mind you I ma.. read more
Wow, Chris this speaks so loudly and proudly. About your grandparents pasts. How life was far from easy for both parents and with war added to the mix too. This could have been anyone of our families. Perfect tribute and must admiration and spirit.

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Thank you Dawn, when I look back and think how hard they had it then, with no welfare as a buffer, i.. read more
Dawn

10 Months Ago

I agree totally with you Chris. Dawn.
Wonderfully written. This poem reminded me of my grandparents

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Christine Anne Shaw

10 Months Ago

Thank you Anjeline, pleased to remind you of your grandparents. This photo was actually of my great .. read more
Anjeline

10 Months Ago

Indeed it's facinating and lovely to look back, remember them and at the same time also feel amazed .. read more

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Added on January 16, 2019
Last Updated on January 16, 2019

Author

Christine Anne Shaw
Christine Anne Shaw

Berkshire, United Kingdom



About
Have been at Writerscafe for a year now, so pleased I made the change to posting my work here. Have loved reading poetry all my life, but never wrote my first poem until I hit 40. I wish now that I.. more..

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