My English Journals

What a blessing is a university degree



Sun. 21th Oct., 1990. 27℃. Cloudy.

I thought I could wander in
the beautiful campus (校園) of Chinese University
and let inspirations (靈感) come to me,
Then I would write a poem,
a prelude (前奏曲) or a romance (浪漫曲)

But tomorrow will be the dead-line of an
annotation (註解) of the bibliographies (書目) and journals (雜誌)
for my music history term paper (論文).
-The mid-term test of Modern Chinese Literature
will take place two days later.
Besides, other assignments should be handed in
next week and
next week but one.

Oh, what a blessing
a University Degree!


Great writer's privilege

Mon. 22th Oct., 1990. 27. Sunny.

".....the breakfast was roughly laid, and seated in his arm-chair, against the chimney-piece, sat Morel, rather timid....."

According to rhetorical skills (修辭技巧). this is a foolish sentence.

"Seated" reveals the secret of "sat" while "his" breaks the suspense of "Morel".

The writer is trying to create tension; but he flats it himself.

Why not put it in the following way:-
"......in the arm-chair against the chimney-piece, sat Morel, rather timid....."

Or even a straight description:-
"......Morel sat in his arm-chair against the chimney-piece, looking rather timid." is more interesting than the original writing.

Regretfully, this is found in the middle of page 20 of "Sons and Lovers" by the famous writer, D.H.Lawrence.


Time will clear confusion

Tues. 23th Oct.,1990. 27. Fine

Things are strange when we meet them the first time. Our brain cells need to make extra efforts to recognize them. If having too many new things at one time, we shall be confused.

The history of Medieval Music gives me too many new things that I can hardly stand it.

I have studied the Baroque Period (巴羅克期), the Classical Period (古典期), the Romantic Period (浪漫期) and the Impressionism (印象派) of the twentieth century, but not the Medieval Time (中世紀).

There are a lot of new terms in this period and many of them are not English. They are especially difficult to Chinese students.

Music in the Medieval time was mainly used in Churches and unfortunately I don't believe in any religion, so it is even farther away from me.

Strange things will become familiar to us after we spend time on them. Therefore "time" is the appropriate medicine to clear my confusion. 


I'm sure I can pass my swimming course

Wed. 24th Oct., 1990. 28. Fine.

This afternoon I broke the record I made the other day in my swimming examination. It was "six seconds" faster than the old record. I don't know what grade I've got; but I am sure I have passed this term's P.E. course.

I haven't taken any swimming lessons before joining this course. I used to swim in a self-invented style, in which I proceeded with free-style hands and frog-style legs. I was then led to the right way by my P.E. teacher. I can swim in standard free-style now, but with breath-changing difficulty. I think this is a matter of "practice".

The course will finish by the end of this month because the weather is getting colder and colder. What a great challenge it is to jump into the pool at a low temperature.

Anyway, I shall swim as often as possible before winter comes, for it is really a very good way to relax myself, especially after tremendous mental work.

An unexpected assignment

Thurs. 25th Oct., 1990. 25. Cloudy.

Last week the lecturer of Introduction to Literature (文學概論) assigned us to write an essay to summarize (總結) the previous (之前的) talks.

Since I joined the course late, I missed what the first two lectures talking about "The Essence of Literature", so I could only write what I heard on the third lecture titling "Literary Work".

This afternoon the lecturer asked me to write another essay in the correct title. I was not happy to hear that.

Although it is an interesting topic and worth researching, it is pretty hard to spare time to do an unexpected assignment because I have my mid-term examination at the moment.

Why not bargain with my lecturer? Perhaps he will allow me to finish it after the mid-term exam.

So, I cheered up! -- -----

University students don't seem to have the right to do things one by one.

Fri. 26th Oct., 90. 24. Cloudy.

I didn't sleep well last night because my mind was filled up with three things: a half-finished critical essay on a short Chinese story, the draft of a prose and an English poem.

On the one hand, I am eager to write a right-to-the-point conclusion to the critical essay; on the other, fragments of the prose and the poem recur from time to time in my mind.

Fortunately, I haven't mix them up because each of them get a distinctive character of their own. They are relatively long, medium and short, and hard, soft and romantic respectively.

I should finish them one by one, but time doesn't allow me to do so.

University students always have to take more than one thing at a time. We don't seem to have the right to do things one by one.

It is more effective to be light-hearted than being nervous

Sat. 27th Oct., 1990. 24. Sunny.

There was only one student swimming in the pool this morning. "How nice it would be if I could join him!" I said to myself when I saw him through the window.

Not only tomorrow's music history mid-term test prevented me from joining him, but also the dead-line of two essays in the coming week.

I have been under heavy pressure these days.

We only have twenty four hours a day. Excluding the time spent on attending lectures, there's not much time left for assignments.

So, instead of being nervous under pressure, I take the opposite attitude: always be light-hearted. My experience tells me that it is more effective in doing assignments to be light-hearted than being nervous.

I also understand that it is impossible to do every assignment in perfection.

Next time, I think I can join the swimming student definitely.  


A subtle sad feeling.

Sun. 28th Oct., 1990. 25. Sunny.

We came across each other
in front of the University Library.

Your charming face warmed me
when we were talking about our assignment.

Then you said good-bye
and turned around and walked away.

While watching you go away,
a sad feeling suddenly came to me.

History needs a lot of imagination

Mon. 29th Oct., 1990. 26. Fine.

I had my Medieval Music History (中世紀音樂史) test (測驗) this morning. I did quite well this time.

History is something that has passed, so it is quite abstract to us, especially those very ancient things. We can only imagine the facts from the meaning of the words and old photographs.

Sometimes even with photographs, we still can't get a clear picture of the lives of the ancient people, such as the Troubadours (遊唱詩人) of France in the middle ages. We can only feel their nature and temperament (個性) from the songs they left behind.

Nevertheless (然而), I have got a general picture of the Medieval Music after this morning's test because I spent quite some time on it recently.


Don't mind about making mistakes when speak English

Tues. 30th Oct., 1990. 25. Fine.

Mrs Marks, a lady in her fifties, I guess, was introduced to us by our English lecturer Mrs Bond this morning. She gave us a casual but meaningful talk. From her speech, I knew that she is a good English teacher as well as an experienced (有經驗的) traveler (旅遊家).

We were extraordinarily silent during her talk because she spoke so vividly (生動的) that our attention were tightly captured. Words from her were so clear, full of rhythm, and convincing (令人信服的).

The most impressive sentences I think were:-

"A baby knows nothing. He rises up again every time after falling down. Therefore don't mind about making mistakes and try to speak English. Whether you speak well or bad, you are a part of the universe. So just try your best!"

Surely, I will keep these words in my mind.     

The ink has been used up

Wed. 31th Oct., 1990. 26. Sunny.

I am under pressure now because I have to finish this journal before going to bed.

Having just wound up (總結) a long essay, I am mentally exhausted (用盡) now. It is impossible to write anything in such a state (狀況).

My mind had closed when I put down the pen just now. Writing is purely thinking activities. When you are tired, nothing will come to your mind.

Although you have decided to talk about a certain matter and even have put down the title on the paper, there will just be the title there, with nothing follows.

So the only thing I want to do now is to put down my pen and go to bed because the "ink" has been used up already.

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