To Orwell Today,

Greetings --

Saw your pages on the Blue Willow poem. My grandfather recited another one to me that I pass on to you for your amusement.

Blue Willow Plate

Far away within the East,
A monarch kept his state.
And near him, just across the bridge,
There lived a prince (see plate).

The monarch had a daughter fair.
The prince in love was he.
"No, no, good man," the monarch said,
"My daughter stays with me."

Across the bridge the lovers fled.
The king pursued irate.
They hied them to a little boat,
And sailed away (see plate).

Alas the stormy winds did blow
As cruel as cruel could be.
They dashed the boat upon the rocks,
and drowned them in the sea.

But changed to bird by fairies kind
Their spirits rose elate.
And even now about the king
They hover still (see plate).

Reed Ide

Greetings Reed,

Thanks a million for sending your grandfather's Blue Willow poem - it's a really good one (maybe even the original)*.

I have a few sets of Blue Willow dishes, and for illustrative purposes - so people can follow along easily with your poem - I've scanned the 14" Platter above. It's from the set called "Willow" by Johnson Bros, England. To illustrate my grandmother's Blue Willow poem I scanned the 8-1/2" Side & Cheese Plate from the set called "Real Old Willow" by Booths, England:

Blue Willow Dish

Two birds flying high
a little ship sailing by
a Chinese castle here it stands
facing many, many lands
a little bridge with three men on
a willow tree, that ends my song

All the best,
Jackie Jura

*PS - When you read the two poems sequentially, ie your grandfather's and my grandmother's, they tell the story and the effect, ie there are two birds flying high and now we know how they came to be. The version your grandfather recited tells the story behind the first Blue Willow pattern which originated in Shropshire, England in 1780. The following description (from a website named Tudor House that no longer connects) gives the history of the Blue Willow dishes and contains phrases that can be found interspersed also among the other Blue Willow poems readers have sent it:

ANTIQUE ENGLISH VICTORIAN BLUE WILLOW ("The blue willow pattern has been used extensively by potters all over the world, shortly after transfer printing was first developed. It is a Chinoiserie design containing a willow tree, a temple, two love birds in flight, a bridge with either two or three people crossing it, and a boat set in an Asian, exotic or distant land. Antique blue willow probably originated with Thomas Minton c1780 for the Caughley pottery in Shropshire, England. The blue willow design was extensively used in Staffordshire, and eventually it was even copied in China. Several stories have been invented attempting to explain the significance of this pattern. One myth says that two lovers are running across the bridge fleeing from a disapproving father. The lovers then escape in a boat to an island. The blue willow design is still being used today.")

Reader Serenyi sends the version of the Blue Willow poem that was taught by her grandparents

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

To Orwell Today,

GREAT! It's fun to see that others also have memories of this design and its story(s).


Jackie Jura
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