“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

A Short Poem from 1914 – Old China

Posted: February 23rd, 2013 | No Comments »

A short and sweet, and rather dated, poem today – unattributed I’m afraid but first published in Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, on April 1, 1914.

Old China

Little Wun-lee’s father, Nang-Poo,

Let her do just what she wanted to do;

Made her processions with peacocky banners

In the most regal and lavish of manners.

Little Wun-lee’s father, Nang-Poo,

Was a magician who lived at Foo-choo.

Now if you possess a magician of cunning

Nothing you want should be out of the running.

Little Wun-lee had all sorts of things—

Fly-away carpets and vanishing-rings,

Djinn as her footmen, and gem-spraying fountains,

And lovely snow-leopards from ghost-haunted mountains.

Little Wun-lee, combing her hair,

Saw a blue butterfly float through the air—

Saw a blue butterfly flicker and settle

On an azalea’s rosy pink petal.

Little Wun-lee said: “By the Mings,

That for your fly-away carpets and rings!

Peacocks and palanquins? Powers and dominions?

I’ll have a pair of blue butterfly’s pinions!”

“Little Wun-lee,” answered Nang Poo,

“That’s the one trick no magician can do;

Never did wizard of land, air or water

Magic blue wings on a little white daughter.”

Little Wun-lee, dainty and dear,

Cried for a day and a week and a year—

Cried till she died of a Thwarted Ambition,

And nobody cared but Nang-Poo, the magician.

Little Wun-lee, little Wun-lee,

He buried her ‘neath the azalea tree;

And the burnished blue butterflies flicker and hover,

And the rosy pink petals fall lightly above her.

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