Monday, November 18, 2013

William Blake's Inn

For some inexplicable reason I was quite taken with this poem, the whimsical drawing and subtle message. I saw it on Pinterest but hesitated using it not knowing the source. So I "pinned" the picture and wrote underneath  "I wonder where this poem came from?"  Quite amazingly an answer came back under an hour's time with the book and author. So that led me on a quest to learn more. 

A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers is a children's picture book written by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, published by Harcourt Brace in 1981. In 1982 Willard won the annual Newberry Medal and the Provensons were one runner-up for the Caldecott Medal from the professional children's librarians.
William Blake's Inn remains the only Newbery-winning book that is also a "Caldecott Honor Book" 
Inspired by William Blake’s "Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience", this collection of poetry for children brings to life Blake’s imaginary inn and its unusual guests. 

In a prose introduction, Willard tells how she was introduced to the poetry of William Blake when she was ill as a seven-year-old. She asked her babysitter, Miss Pratt, for a story "about lions and tigers" and Miss Pratt responded with Blake's "The Tyger". Two days later she received a copy of "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" inscribed "Poetry is the best medicine. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. yrs, William Blake."

The fifteen poems that follow, plus an epilogue, describe the events of a day and a half of a child's visit to William Blake's Inn. Inhabited by such creatures as the Rabbit, the Rat, the Wise Cow, the King of Cats, the Tiger, the Man in the Marmalade Hat, and of course William Blake himself, it is a place of wonder and magic.

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
Looking for a children's gift? A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers might just be the perfect choice. 
One of my favorite lines is from Willard's get well note from Miss Pratt that said "Poetry is the best medicine."

A new word for the week is Gluhwein which literally means “glowing wine” It is a mulled wine traditionally served in Germany, Alsace region of France and other parts of northern Europe. Gluhwein is a popular beverage found at every German Christmas market and served during the holiday season.

This photo was taken late November in Vienna at one of the Christmas markets.
In this picture note the man carrying a yellow mug of mulled wine. It was a very cold day and the mulled wine was a perfect warm-up.  Wine is sold in special keep-sake mugs. An hour later a freezing drizzle followed by snow sent the crowds scurrying into warm places. 

The mulled wine is prepared with red wine that has been heated and spiced up with cinnamon sticks, citrus (orange or lemon) cloves and sometime raisins. I am having a preholiday party to taste appetizers that will be featured in food column The Seasonal Plate.

We begin with a mug of Gluhwein. 


  • ½ cup sugar 
  • ½ cup water 
  • 1 large cinnamon stick 
  • 1 orange 
  • 8 whole cloves 
  • 1 bottle of red wine (Pinot Noir, Merlot or a Shiraz are some suggested wines to use) 
  • cinnamon sticks to serve with beverage 
  • In a saucepan combine water, sugar and cinnamon stick 
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 
  • Cut orange in half and divide the cloves in half 
  • Place cloves in each orange peel half and place in simmering water 
  • Simmer on low for 30 minutes or until thick and syrupy 
  • Pour in the wine and heat until steaming but not simmering 
  • Remove the clove studded orange halves 
  • Serve hot in mugs that have been preheated or glasses preheated with warm water-(note a cold glass could break) 
  • Serve with a cinnamon stick and orange slice 

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