Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Visit to William Blake's Inn--Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (1982)

This is a fun little book of poems about an imaginary inn run by William Blake, the late 18th-early 19th century British poet, painter and printmaker. The author, Nancy Willard, says in her introduction that she was inspired by William Blake's illustrated books of poetry--Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

The inn is staffed by fanciful animals.  Dragons bake the bread. A bear is a bed. There are rabbits and mice and a tiger too.

A few lines caught my fancy.  "rather a wish that only flew when I climbed in and found it true." (p. 16)

After taking some animals on a walk in the Milky Way,
"The rat was sullen. He grumbled
he ought to have stayed in his bed.
'What's gathered by fools in heaven
will never endure,' he said.

"Blake gave silver stars to the rabbit
and golden stars to the cat
and emerald stars to the tiger and me
but a handful of dirt to the rat." (p. 33)

And finally, "Blake's advice to travelers, 'He whose face gives no light will never become a star.'" (p. 44)

This would be a fun read with younger children.  The illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen are very fun and add to the poetry. Although poetry is not my favorite genre, I am going to check out William Blake's aforementioned works.

Willard, Nancy. A Visit to William Blake's Inn. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1981.

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