To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

I found your site while looking for a poem about a Blue Willow plate (not looking for Orwell).

A friend of a friend of mine is trying to remember the story shown on a willow pattern plate that ends something like "and patter paling round the sun". I would swear I saw a poem with the word "paling" in it on your website, but I clicked away from it and can't find it again!

Can you help?

Marian Bock,
New Mexico, USA

Greetings Marian,

There are many ways people come upon ORWELL TODAY while looking for something else -- and in your case, the Blue Willow dishes poem. But actually, there is an Orwell connection to the dishes through the English county of Shropshire which is where the original Blue Willow pattern was engraved in 1780.

And Shropshire is where Orwell spent his boyhood vacations from Eton during the war years -- 1914-1918. Orwell's father, although elderly when he retired from Imperial service in India (where Orwell was born in 1903) had joined the army and was stationed away from home as was Orwell's mother who, like thousands of women, was also doing war work. This left Orwell nowhere to go except to stay with friends who lived in Shropshire.


With his friend, Prosper Buddicom, Orwell would do things like fishing, shooting and birdwatching and with the sister, Jacintha, Orwell talked about books and wrote poetry -- two of which were published in local papers. At that time Orwell's favourite poet was A.E. Houseman who was famous for the poem A SHROPSHIRE LAD, ie:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

But now to answer your question about the word "paling" appearing on my website in connection with the Blue Willow poem. Yes, it's there in a poem sent by a reader from Australia -- here's his version below a pic of my Blue Willow platter:


Two little bluebirds flying high,
Chinese vessel sailing by,
Bridge with three men, if not four,
Weeping Willow bending orr,

Chinese temple there it stands,
See the work of many hands,
Plum tree with plums on,
Crooked paling all along.

The word "paling" is British for a fence made of long, thin strips of wood.

All the best,
Jackie Jura, June 2022

PS - Below are comments and various versions of the poem sent in by readers over the years -- I'll add yours to the list

ORWELL, WILLOW DISHES & SHROPSHIRE (Marian's looking for the Blue Willow poem that has the word "paling" in it)

BLUE WILLOW DISHES & POEM TELL STORY Gwenda's great-grandmother from Lancashire used to recite the Willow Pattern poem to her grandmother when she was a child

Carrie Anne is wondering about the value of a Willow pattern Jug and Chamber Pot

Jan has a set of Blue Willow dishes made in Japan & wonders about their dollar value

BLUE WILL DISH-HUTCH POEMS (Jackie answers a reader about Willow wallpaper and the origin of some Willow poems)

BLUE WILLOW POEM DOWN UNDER (reader Richard from Australia sends his mother's version)

Marlene is looking for Blue Willow wallpaper after reading the Blue Willow poems

4 BLUE WILLOW DISHES POEMS (reader Barbara's grandmother recited the Blue Willow poem to her mother who recited it to her)

Gene has a set of Blue Willow dishes stamped "Japan" on the bottom & asks for more information

BLUE WILLOW POEM SEE PLATE (reader Reed sends his grandfather's version of the Blue Willow dishes poem)

Chrissy asks for help finding out about the set of Blue Willow dishes she was given by her grandmother

Serenyi sends another version of the Blue Willow poem

Colleen wonders about the age of her "Blue Willow" set of dishes

TENNESSEE VERSION BLUE WILLOW (reader Barbara sends version she learned from her grandmother)





Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com