This poem is about teaching English and conveys powerful emotions through observation of small, almost banal details: shoes in shoe shops, bright dresses, the artificial language of an English lesson.

The Bright Dresses


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The bright dresses

After your addio - breathless, banal, the click
of the telephone, I came out into Corso Vittorio
Emmanuele. Milan's glorious main street:
rows of posh shoe shops, buckles and toecaps
on tip toe behind thick glass; at the end of the
boulevard the cathedral spires like the tails of
old seahorses: rigid, brittle and upside down;
sunlight all round me in a hot, close envelope,
with its smell of coffee and expensive briefcases;
words on the air from the English lesson I had
just been teaching: "Sylvia never arrives late.
Tom loves pop music and small dogs."
This is the present simple for habit. It goes on
and on I was saying. Then down the road
they came: three bright dresses in yellow, pink
and peacock blue, blurring to blobs of floating
colour inside the tears in my eyes. They jangled
the words, advanced unbearably bright towards
me: Sylvia loves pop music. Tom never arrives
late. Small dogs. Small dogs. Never. Loves.

by Robert Seatter

With kind permission of the poet, previously published in Poetry as a Foreign Language, edited by Martin Bates, White Adder Press, 1999

Task 1

Select the best answer to each question.






I think it is a love story end and the teacher thinks in Sylvia and Tom they are a happy couple and
they love pop music, they share things, but the teacher is alone.

thak you very much

very hard vocabulary

I got out of Victoria Station, managed to reach the opposite pavement through the pedestrian crossings and the countless red double-decker buses, struggled with a bus timetable and wrote down awkwardly some bus numbers on a colored flyer.
I jumped into the bus and sat down, as usual, on top level. There, I let my breath out a bit and thought, why after decades, I am still as excited, impressed, overwhelmed by this strange feeling, thinking about Dickens novels and an impossible parallel with this apparent modern town? I looked down on the street, towards this formidable mixed people, at the window shops and sadly realised I have got the same in Paris, tried to find a typical old pub according to my current nostalgia. Down from the bus at Covent Garden, I stumbled on a dog that can understand English.

i find that so interesting Tank You so Much

There are so many words I donot know。

I don't like it