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A Scene by Iris Shieh

One way for an ESL teacher to get students to write in English is to have them translate a poem they know from their own language. Iris was in my poetry workshop summer of 2010. She introduced me to the poet Bian Zhilin, one of China’s favorites. Zhilin was a university professor who was greatly influenced by the English Romantics and the French Symbolists. He liked to use strange words, which makes some of his work hard to understand. His translations of Shakespeare and Andre Gide are those the Chinese read.

“A Scene” has an accessible dreamlike clarity to it and is a very popular poem. Many of my students not only could recite it but were fond of it as well.

Translation of a poem by Bian Zhilin (1910-2000)



A Scene

You are watching scenery on a bridge.
Someone is watching you from a window.
The moon is part of your view.
You are part of someone’s dream.

Bian Zhilin


  1. Mimi Allin

    lovely so lovely!!!

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