Zhejiang International Studies University

Awaken the Muses in My Students

When I told the students in my English poetry class that, as part of the course requirement, they were expected to write poems in English, nearly all protested. For few classes on English poetry in China have ever attempted that daunting task. But, deep in each pair of those shining eyes I believed I saw the Muses, the dormant yet beautiful Muses waiting to be awakened. That I tried and seemed successful. Now, at the end of this class, I am proud to introduce some of the creative pieces of my students. Let us read and enjoy.

 Zhao Fa

To my host

Gu Ying 

Dark as I am,

I am as light as you.

Flat as I am,

I am as round as you.


Born from the ray,

I am the kid of brightness;

Buried by the dark,

I am the slave of gloominess.


O my host,

Don’t leave me alone,

For I am another you.

My comment:

This light-hearted poem is written in an intimate tone. In it, a person's shadow is personified. The tone is created by the use of personification, apostrophe and the words of closely related yet opposite meanings, like dark/light, flat/round, born/buried, ray/dark, brightness/ gloominess.


Why are you going to cry?

Zhang Wei


Birds are singing in the sky,

When butterflies are learning to fly;

You are the wings of mine,

Why are you going to cry?


Trees are growing so high,

When flowers are beginning to smile;

You are the sunshine of mine,

Why are you going to cry?


Papa is making your clothes dry,

When Mama is making you a pie;

You are the hope of mine,

Why are you going to cry?


You are the apple of my eye,

You will be always dear to my mind;

Everything will be fine,

Why are you going to cry?  

 My comment:

The girl who wrote this poem told us that this piece was addressed to herself. She told us that she used to be very sentimental, easy to break into tears. In the four quatrains with an aaaa rhyming pattern, she lists the beautiful things from Nature, family, and love to convince herself that there’s indeed no need to cry in this lovely world.



Why don’t you smile as you always do?

Si Qing

Why don’t you smile as you always do?

You’re supposed to be happy this time.

But now you are lying in bed,

Entwined in the cold medical wires.


Why don’t you smile as you always do?

You’re supposed to sit under sunshine.

But now you are lying in bed,

Tortured by endless pains.


Why don’t you smile as you always do?

You’re supposed to say “hey, my girl” to me.

But now you are lying in bed,

Lost in occasional faint.


Why don’t you smile as you always do?

Watching your pale face so much hurts me.

I wish you stayed longer even in bed.

I wish you smiled as you always do.

My comment:

When I asked the writer of this poem to read this piece in class, she choked and couldn't finish her reading. She told the class that she  wrote this poem to memorize her grandma in hospital. From her shining tears, I had a deeper understanding of Wordsworth’s words, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”


Don’t quit


Yu Wentao

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t quit.


Success is failure turned inside out,

The silver tints in the clouds of doubt.

You never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems afar.

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,

It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.

My comment:

Two things surprised me of this poem. One is the determined tone with which the poem is written. No doubt, this is a boy’s creation, as is fully manifested by the masculine rhymes and clear-cut rhythm. The other thing is the spontaneity with which the boy finished this piece. Do you believe it was written in a two-hour exam in which the students had to do other items more time-consuming than this?


My dear dairy

 Ying Wenqing

Oh! My dear dairy, could you take me back to yesterday

When it feels like

The world's gone crazy

When the line between right and wrong

Didn't seem so hazy?

Oh! My dear dairy, tell me about the good old days.


Oh! My dear dairy, could you take me back to yesterday

When everything wasn’t changing so fast,

When a fountain pen was a rare and precious gift?

But I just don't know where it went.

Oh! My dear dairy, let's wander back into the past.


My comment:

Nostalgia is one of the most popular themes in modern poetry. This poem is no exception. What impressed me is the writer’s fond memory of the past when a fountain pen was thought precious, and when the world was full of simple, innocent and wonderful things.


To my Dad

 Feng Liting

He wasn’t a hero

Known by the world.

But a hero he was,

To his little girl.


To me he is a god

Who knows everything,

And better than Santa

With gifts he would bring.


I knew his voice

Before I could speak,

And loved it when

He sang me to sleep.


He’d come home late

With not much to say,

And make us all kneel,

As he taught us to play.


He taught me life’s lessons

Of right or wrong,

And effected on my values

That I might be wrong.


So, dear Dad,

My best memory to recall

Is the gift of your presence,

The greatest gift of all.

My comment:

This poem was composed almost impromptu, in half an hour in an exam. The diction is simple, but the feeling is genuine and strong. The writer spotlighted on a few instances when she was with her father, dwelling on those loving moments and bringing forth this piece of true emotion.


Do you see the blind beggar out there?

 Pan Manli

Do you see the blind beggar out there,

The one who can only sleep in the freezing air?

When the sympathy shifts its eyes, 

How can he smile?


Do you see the injured pauper out there,

The one who can only sit in the wheel chair?

When the hospital has shut its door,

How can he bear his sore?


And do you see the little child out there,

The one who alone lives in here?

Because his parents already died,

When will sorrow begin to subside?


Do you see all these things out there,

While happiness seems difficult to bear?

If you don’t try your best,

How can you hold back many a tear? 


My comment:

People say that our younger generations are self-centered and narcissistic, but this poem shows that they are as responsible and altruistic as they should be. The writer focuses on the miseries of our society and comes up with an understanding of her obligation for the humankind.


What are you waiting for?

 Hu Ying

What are you waiting for?

The perfect night when the time is right,

You gotta go and reach for the top,

Believe in every dream that you got.


What are you waiting for?

A sign to choose or the time you lose,

Everybody's gonna make mistakes,

But everybody's got a choice to make.

My comment:

The meaning of this poem is not plain enough. I have to read it many times before I seem to understand it, still dimly though. But, as Russian Formalist Shklovsky said, poetry “is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end initself. “ So here, I’m not afraid of showing my lengthy understanding of this piece, for I am reading an early work by someone who may be another Yeats or Dylan Thomas someday. Who knows?


2014 English Poetry.docx