Old Photograph


"Old Photograph" is a song from John Musto's song cycle The Book of Uncommon Prayer.


The audio recording of "Old Photograph," provided in the audio playlist to the right, is made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest. The performers are Stephen Ng, tenor, and Justyna Chesy-Parda, piano, and the performance took place at SongFest 2008 at Pepperdine University. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

Old Photograph
by Archibald MacLeish

There she is. At Antibes I'd guess
by the pines, the garden, the sea shine.

She's laughing. Oh, she always laughed,
at cameras. She'd laugh and run
before that devil in the lens could catch her.
He's caught her this time, though: look at her
eyes -- her eyes aren't laughing.

There's no such thing as fragrance in a photograph
but this one seems to hold a fragrance --
fresh-washed gingham in a summer wind.

Old? Oh, thirty maybe. Almost thirty.
This would have been the year I went to Persia --
they called it Persia then -- Shiraz,
Bushire, the Caspian, Isfahan.
She sent me the news in envelopes lined in blue.
The children were well. The Murphys were angels:
they had given her new potatoes sweet as peas
on a white plate under the linden tree.
She was singing Melisande with Croiza --
"mes longues cheveux." She was quite, quite well.
I was almost out of my mind with longing for her.

There she is that summer in Antibes --
with frightened eyes.

Audio PLaylist