This poem by Andrew Motion was inspired by a Thomas Jones painting in London's National Gallery in which Motion reflects upon the enduring value of artistic creation.

A Wall in Naples


Do the Preparation task first. Then go to Text and read the poem or story (you can also listen to the audio while you read). Next go to Task and do the activity.

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A Wall in Naples

by Andrew Motion

I have forgotten whatever it was
I wanted to say. Also the way I wanted
to say it. Form and Music.

Perhaps it had something to do with - no,
that's not it. More likely, I should just
look at whatever there is

and fix myself to the earth. This wall,
I mean, which faces me over the street.
Smooth as a shaven chin

but pocked with the holes that scaffolders left
and flicked with an overflow-flag. Which still
leaves pigeon-shit, rain-streaks, washing -

or maybe the whole thing's really a board
where tiny singing meteors strike.
How can we tell what is true? I rest my case.

I rest my case and cannot imagine a hunger
greater than this. For marks.
For messages sent by hand. For signs of life.


Task 2

Complete the gaps with a word from the top to make a summary of the text.






Looked at it
Looked down
Sadness?? Maybe, a little bit
No... Warmness like my hometown
All this Sorrow, in one piece of art!
My lady please don’t frown
Oh my heart
I felt your misery no need to explain

Can’t remember where I saw it
I remember I was surprised
A beauty like this
Can’t be put aside

Art isn’t a decoration
You don’t need to buy
It’s a legacy for your nation
It’s a shame to hide
To be forgotten on a wall
It’s a therapy, it’s a food to you soul

(It's my first time to try )

Hello talabaker,

Fantastic! Thanks very much for sharing this with us -- this is a great first poem in English. I really like the idea of warmth being like your hometown. Is this about a painting or other work of art from where you live?

Please feel free to post other poems -- we'd be happy to have them!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much am glad you liked it. It's a painting of a lady from my occupied country that really caught my heart .
Can you please explain what the poet meant by (and fix myself to the earth)

Hello talabaker,

I'm not sure what the poet may have meant, but what I understand is that he shouldn't get too involved in interpreting the painting. In the first two stanzas, it seems to me that he is standing before the painting and wants to say something about it, but struggles to find the words. Then he starts to think about it in different ways, but in the third stanza he reminds himself that maybe it's better not to think too much and to pay more attention to what's in front of him. This is just what makes sense to me, but it might be useful to think that the expression 'to have your feet on the ground' (which 'fix myself to the earth' reminded me of) means to be practical and sensible.

I hope this helps you and thanks for telling us about the inspiration for your own poem. Keep it up!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

What does the rain streaks mean ?

Hello Bishnu sharma,

I think the poet is referring to the stains or marks that rain can leave on a wall, i.e. the changes in colour that the humidity of the rain can produce in the wall.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Adam!
Could you explain some sentences in above poem like; I rest my case. Fix myself to the earth. which faces me over the street and the last whole paragraph. Thanks so much for your always cooperation.

Hello Omer Gul,

'I rest my case' is an expression lawyers traditionally use when they have finished explaining their case. But we also use it to say that something that just happened proves that we were right about something. In this case, I suppose the poet means that all of his observations prove that it is difficult to say what is true (but I'm not sure).

When he says 'fix myself to the earth', I think he means not get too philosophical or abstract. 'which faces me over the street' seems to refer to the wall -- in other words the poet sees it across the street from him. As I understand it, the last section of the poem is about him wanting to understand by seeing signs, i.e. his want to understand is like a hunger.

I hope this helps you!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Too much yellow
I thought in the first time
Then I realized the small things on it
The feeling, the care,
the sensations behind the yellow
How a single kiss could show that?
Maybe the simplicity of flowers
Or those asymmetrical rectangles
I will never know
The only thing I know
when I see that kiss
Is I just want to be there, to be they

hi luiza how are you?
do you want to practice English with me?