I just learned from an answer to an ID question about the poem "The Duel", or "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat", in which Eugene Field describes a vicious fight between two stuffed animals as told to him by a "Dutch clock" and a "Chinese plate". The repeated mention of countries, in this otherwise quite timeless and unfixed poem, made me wonder if there's any special significance to them. Especially since the poet repeatedly draws attention (parenthetically) to their credibility:

(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)
(Don't fancy I exaggerate—
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

Could there be, even, some political subtext? At the time this poem was written (I couldn't actually find exactly when that was), was there any particular international news involving credibility of the Netherlands or China? Or am I reading too much into a simple children's rhyme?


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