Friday, July 11, 2008

(Spode Willow ca. 1790 image from The Spode Museum)

'Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by.
A bridge with three men, sometimes four,
A willow tree, hanging o'er.
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands.
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.'

The Legend of the Willow Plate

My Willowware plate has a story,
Pictorial, painted in blue
From the land of tea and the tea plant
And the little brown man with a queue.

Whatever the food you serve, daughter
Romance enters into the feast,
If you only pay heed to the legend,
On the old china plate from the East.

Koong Shee was a mandarin’s daughter
And Chang was her lover, ah me,
For surely her father’s accountant
Might never wed pretty Koong Shee.

So Chang was expelled from the compound,
The lover’s alliance to break,
And pretty Koong Shee was imprisoned
In a little blue house by the lake.

The Doughty old mandarin reasoned
It was time that his daughter should wed,
And the groom of his choosing should banish,
That silly romance from her head.

In symbols the dress she should wear,
Her headband of scarlet lay waiting,
She should ride in a gold wedding chair.

He was busily plotting and planning,
When a message was brought him one day,
Young Chang had invaded the palace,
And taken his sweetheart away.

They were over the bridge when he saw them,
They were passing the big willow tree,
And a boat at the edge of the water,
Stood waiting for Chang and Koong Shee.

The furious mandarin followed,
The groom with revenge in his eyes,
But the little boat danced on the water
And traveled away with the prize.

But vengeance pursued to their shelter
And burned the pagoda, they say
From out of the flames rose the lovers
A pair of doves winging away.

They flew toward the western heaven
The pretty Koong Shee and her Chang
Or so says the famous old legend
From the land of the Yangtze Kiang.

I wouldn’t be one to deny it,
For the little blue dove and her mate
Forever are flying together
Across my Willow ware plate.


willow said...

Rebecca, I adore the blue willow pattern! I have a set of Johnson Brothers Blue Willow dinner plates that I have had for 30 years and have never tired of. I also think the story is so charming!

One of my early posts was on the willow pattern! check it out:

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Oh! Such a sad and yet beautiful poem, about the two doomed lovers.

I'm not sure, but it seems to me that you have left out a line at the end of the sixth stanza? All the other have four lines and this one has only three (although I note there is a period after the third line).

There is some very pretty imagery in this poem, and your willoware is just charming!

You know this poem pretty much sums up the plotlines of 50% of all operas!?

Rebecca said...

Lavinia, it does look odd but this is how the stanza is printed on the Stoke-on-Trent pottery page as well.

Rebecca said...

Willow, I'll have to look at that post!...How fitting! :-)

willow said...

Rebecca, I have an Arte y Pico Award waiting for you over at Willow Manor! :)

Kalianne said...

One of the things that charmed me most about my husband when we first met was his Spode Willow dinner and matching tea sets. Not bad for and Aussie bachelor.. You have a lovely site by the way. I 'borrowed' some of your music for my site. Thanks for the inspiration!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I was at an out of state book club meeting this weekend and it was held at an exceptional tea house. We got to choose our tea cups and there was no shortage of blue willow. I thought of your blog!

Marie Antionette said...

What a lovely blog.I so enjoyed your poem.The Blue Willows are to die for.I will be back for a cup of tea soon. Marie Antionette

Mmm said...

Lovely poem ... and china. I love this type of ceramics.

rochambeau said...

The Bllu Willow has love birds!
This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this poem. Never knew!