Dinner Plate


1. Two Birds Flying High
2. Two Pigeons Flying High
3. There Were Two Birds a Flying High
4. Far Away Within the East

To Orwell Today,


My mother (90) was just telling me tonight that the bathroom when she was small had blue willow wallpaper. Her mother put her hair up in curlers every night and as she was doing that she would tell her a poem about the blue willow pattern.

I have been looking for it because she forgot some of the words - anyways thanks for putting it on your site. A small story I hadn't heard (re: my mother and hers').

-Barbara White

Greetings Barbara,

It was godcidental (not coincidental) to receive your email today about the Blue Willow poem because I recited it earlier to a friend who was here for lunch -- I was telling her about how my grandmother taught me the poem.

About three years ago I was in an antique/second-hand store and in the back room, displayed in a china cabinet, they were selling a set of Blue Willow dishes -- 10 dinner plates; 10 bread plates; 10 small dessert bowls; 10 cups & saucers and a butter dish. The set was like the set my grandmother used -- made in Japan.

Dinner Plate

Small Bowl Plate Cup Saucer

Butter Dish

I didn't really need more Blue Willow dishes but I didn't have a set of these very dark blue -- scanned above -- and I couldn't resist! (The cost wasn't too prohibitive.) The dinner plate is smaller than the plates in my other sets, and so are the bowls. I read, somewhere, that back in the old days dinner plates were smaller than the plates made now. I use these dishes quite often.

I love your story about your mother telling you her memories of the Blue Willow pattern and reciting what she could remember of the poem. And it's wonderful that you came upon my website and now can recite the rest of it to her -- she'll be so proud of you!

Here are four versions of the Blue Willow poem so far -- the first one being the one I learned from my grandmother and the others sent in by readers over the years:

1. Two Birds Flying High

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

2. Two Pigeons Flying High

Two pigeons flying high
Chinese vessel sailing by
Weeping Willow hanging or
Bridge with three men if not four
Chinese Temple here it stands
Seems to cover all the land
Apple tree with apples on
A pretty fence to end my song

3. There Were Two Birds A Flying High

There were two birds a flying high
A China ship a passing by
A China house see there it stands
As fine as any in the land
And if you look a little closer
You will see three men if not four
An apple tree with apples on
And a bridge beneath the sun

4. Far Away Within the East

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).

I wonder which Blue Willow poem your mother learned from your grandmother?

All the best,
Jackie Jura

To Orwell Today,

Hi Jackie,

It was the short poem - she'd point at the graphics on the wallpaper as she sang the words.

Mum said she had ringlets and her mother used the old rag method. She recalled because she was at her recorder group (yes she's 90) barbeque on Sunday and the man who is from Holland had a huge set of blue willow that they were eating from. She mentioned the poem and he said he didn't realize there actually was a story to the pattern.

Anyways I started looking and came up with site so I have copied the poem for her as she had forgotten some of the words.

Thanks a lot - you've made her happy.

Greetings again Barbara,

I'm happy to have helped make her happy and happy too that it's my grandmother's poem that she loved.

I hadn't heard of Blue Willow wallpaper but a google search turned up some -- amazing the wonder of the worldwideweb. I found how to do rag-ringlets too.

watch How to make curls & ringlets with a nylon sock, You Tube

What a fond BLUE WILLOW memory of passing the time while ringlets were being made. Having the image in front of a person -- be it dishes or wallpaper -- makes it easier to remember the rhyme.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

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

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

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

Reader Serenyi sends another version of the Blue Willow poem

Reader 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)





29.Risking Renting Room

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

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