Poetry / August 2008 (Issue 4)

Bad English

by Ouyang Yu

Teaching English in China
The old professor can't help
The fact that his hair is turning grey

An email letter leaves him
Upset for days without knowing why
That begins with this: 'Dear Mr professor Richard'

Student papers are written in such a way
That how much effort goes into fixing them
He invariably sees a new English cropping up postgraduateswise:

'I felt boring when days after days were spent meaninglessly'
'He doted him and he doted her'
'Grandma cared me so much she does something out of expectation'

The professor decides that it's probably just as well
His grasshopper arms powerless against the onslaught
Of an English in spite of itself

So, in his last class, he found time to speak
Their language: I felt exciting at the thought
Of returning to Oz as living here I often feel boring

I objected myself speaking such bad English
Although I do care you and I admire you

For things like this: 'On that day's noon'
And your brilliant slips of pen, like this:
'We must all uphold human tights'
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