The Pearl's Secrets;Young Poet;TES Competition;Poem

19th February 1999 at 00:00
Class 3 wrote this poem during a writing workshop I gave on the paintings of John Singer Sargent. This particular piece is inspired by "Mrs Carl Meyer and her Children", a sumptuous portrait which presents the main character wearing what must be a 12- foot string of pearls. "What can the pearls see that we can't?" I asked. "What are its secrets?" The real success of the poem, I feel, is that Class 3 have invented a new character, out of "shot", who is nonetheless a fully realised presence in the picture because we can hear his "quiet angry voice" reading out loud. I love the tell-tale details: the "show-off suit", the "shiny shoes"; and the masterful "crystal house", which leads one to think of transparency, fragility and a certain opulent toughness, all the "secrets" Sargent was himself in the business of secretly unravelling.


A secret boyfriend

Called Henry

Reading a serious book

In a quiet angry voice

To my lady

He wears shiny shoes

A show-off suit

And a black top hat

He gives her

A crystal house

To say I love you

class 3, bromley hall special school

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today