In this obscene photograph sold in the street
secretly (have to watch out for the police),
in this whorish photograph,
how could there be such a dream-like face?
How did you get in here?

Who knows what a degrading, vulgar life you lead;
how horrible the surroundings must have been
when you posed to have this picture taken;
what a cheap soul you must have.
But in spite of all this, and even more, you remain for me
the dream-like face, the figure
shaped for and dedicated to the Hellenic kind of pleasure-
that's how you remain for me
and how my poetry speaks about you.

by Constantine P. Cavafy.

Sonnet Xv: The Photograph

Phoebus Apollo, from Olympus driven,
Lived at Admetus, tending herds and flocks:
And strolling o'er the pastures and the rocks
He found his life much duller than in Heaven.
For he had left his bow, his songs, his lyre,
His divinations and his healing skill,
And as a serf obeyed his master's will.
One day a new thought waked an old desire.
He took to painting, with his colors seven,
The sheep, the cows, the faces of the swains,
All shapes and hues of forests and on plains.
These old sun-pictures all are lost, or given
Away among the god. Man owns but half
The Sun-god's secret-in the Photograph.

by Christopher Pearse Cranch.

The Four Princesses At Wilna. A Photograph

Sweet faces, that from pictured casements lean
As from a castle window, looking down
On some gay pageant passing through a town,
Yourselves the fairest figures in the scene;
With what a gentle grace, with what serene
Unconsciousness ye wear the triple crown
Of youth and beauty and the fair renown
Of a great name, that ne'er hath tarnished been!
From your soft eyes, so innocent and sweet,
Four spirits, sweet and innocent as they,
Gaze on the world below, the sky above;
Hark! there is some one singing in the street;
'Faith, Hope, and Love! these three,' he seems to say;
'These three; and greatest of the three is Love.'

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

See dis pictyah in my han'?
Dat's my gal;
Ain't she purty? goodness lan'!
Huh name Sal.
Dat's de very way she be--
Kin' o' tickles me to see
Huh a-smilin' back at me.

She sont me dis photygraph
Jes' las' week;
An' aldough hit made me laugh--
My black cheek
Felt somethin' a-runnin' queer;
Bless yo' soul, it was a tear
Jes' f'om wishin' she was here.

Often when I 's all alone
Layin' here,
I git t'inkin' 'bout my own
Sallie dear;
How she say dat I 's huh beau,
An' hit tickles me to know
Dat de gal do love me so.

Some bright day I 's goin' back,
Fo' de la!
An' ez sho' 's my face is black,
Ax huh pa
Fu' de blessed little miss
Who 's a-smilin' out o dis
Pictyah, lak she wan'ed a kiss!

by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Photography Extraordinary

The Milk-and-Water School
Alas! she would not hear my prayer!
Yet it were rash to tear my hair;
Disfigured, I should be less fair.

She was unwise, I may say blind;
Once she was lovingly inclined;
Some circumstance has changed her mind.


The Strong-Minded or Matter-of-Fact School
Well! so my offer was no go!
She might do worse, I told her so;
She was a fool to answer "No".

However, things are as they stood;
Nor would I have her if I could,
For there are plenty more as good.


The Spasmodic or German School
Firebrands and Daggers! hope hath fled!
To atoms dash the doubly dead!
My brain is fire--my heart is lead!

Her soul is flint, and what am I?
Scorch'd by her fierce, relentless eye,
Nothingness is my destiny!

by Lewis Carroll.

On The Photograph Of A Corps Commander

Ay, man is manly. Here you see
The warrior-carriage of the head,
And brave dilation of the frame;
And lighting all, the soul that led
In Spottsylvania's charge to victory,
Which justifies his fame.

A cheering picture. It is good
To look upon a Chief like this,
In whom the spirit moulds the form.
Here favoring Nature, oft remiss,
With eagle mien expressive has endued
A man to kindle strains that warm.

Trace back his lineage, and his sires,
Yeoman or noble, you shall find
Enrolled with men of Agincourt,
Heroes who shared great Harry's mind.
Down to us come the knightly Norman fires,
And front the Templars bore.

Nothing can lift the heart of man
Like manhood in a fellow-man.
The thought of heaven's great King afar
But humbles us--too weak to scan;
But manly greatness men can span,
And feel the bonds that draw.

by Herman Melville.

On The Photograph Of A Corps Commander

Ay, man is manly. Here you see
The warrior-carriage of the head,
And brave dilation of the frame;
And lighting all, the soul that led
In Spottsylvania's charge to victory,
Which justifies his fame.

A cheering picture. It is good
To look upon a Chief like this,
In whom the spirit moulds the form.
Here favoring Nature, oft remiss,
With eagle mien expressive has endued
A man to kindle strains that warm.

Trace back his lineage, and his sires,
Yeoman or noble, you shall find
Enrolled with men of Agincourt,
Heroes who shared great Harry's mind.
Down to us come the knightly Norman fires,
And front the Templars bore.

Nothing can lift the heart of man
Like manhood in a fellow-man.
The thought of heaven's great King afar
But humbles us- too weak to scan;
But manly greatness men can span,
And feel the bonds that draw.

by Meer Taqi Meer.

The Amateur Photographer

Beware of those who slyly pilch
In many cunning ways;
Beware of little lyres that filch
From undisputed bays!
Beware the tumbler's beaded brim,
The ass in fiercer fur;
But most of all beware of him
Who makes my pen to stir--
THe Insecure
And Amateur
Implacable Photographer!

Beware lest, thieving for your thirst,
An earwig's in the plum!
Beware of folly, gay at first,
That later makes you glum!
Beware of pits when stars are dim,
The tooth of vagrant cur;
But most of all beware of him
That makes my pen to stir--
The masterful
Disasterful
Implacable Photographer!

Beware of angling in a stream
Whose trout are not for you;
Beware of trusting in a dream
That's gone before the dew!
Beware of truckling to a whim;
Of folks that always purr;
But most of all beware of him
That makes my pen to stir--
The premature
And Amateur
Implacable Photographer!

by Norman Rowland Gale.

Our Photographs

She play'd me false, but that's not why
I haven't quite forgiven Di,
Although I've tried:
This curl was hers, so brown, so bright,
She gave it me one blissful night,
And - more beside!
In photo we were group'd together;
She wore the darling hat and feather
That I adore;
In profile by her side I sat
Reading my poetry - but that
She'd heard before.

Why, after all, Di threw me over
I never knew, and can't discover,
Or even guess;
May be Smith's lyrics she decided
Were sweeter than the sweetest I did -
I acquiesce.

A week before their wedding day,
When Smith was call'd in haste away
To join the Staff,
Di gave to him, with tearful mien,
Our only photograph. I've seen
That photograph.

I've seen it in Smith's album-book!
Just think! her hat - her tender look,
Are now that brute's!
Before she gave it, off she cut
My body, head, and lyrics, but
She was obliged, the little slut,
To leave my Boots.

by Frederick Locker-Lampson.