A Visit to William Blake's Inn

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A Visit to William Blake's Inn
A Visit to William Blakes Inn.jpg
Front cover
Author Nancy Willard
Illustrator Alice and Martin Provensen
Cover artist Provensen
Country United States
Language English
Genre Poetry
Publisher Harcourt Brace & Company
Publication date
1981
Pages 44 pp
ISBN 0-15-293823-0
OCLC 7573231
LC Class PS3573.I444 V5 1981[1]

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. Next year Willard won the annual Newbery Medal and the Provensens were one runner-up for the Caldecott Medal from the professional children's librarians.[2][3] William Blake's Inn remains the only Newbery-winning book that is also a "Caldecott Honor Book".[a]

The title alludes to Willard's inspiration by William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.[1]

Content[edit]

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.

Poems

  • William Blake’s Inn for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
  • Blake’s Wonderful Car Delivers Us Wonderfully Well
  • A Rabbit Reveals My Room
  • The Sun and Moon Circus Soothes the Wakeful Guests
  • The Man in the Marmalade Hat Arrives
  • The King of Cats Orders an Early Breakfast
  • The Wise Cow Enjoys a Cloud
  • Two Sunflowers Move into the Yellow Room — frequently misattributed to Blake
  • The Wise Cow Makes Way, Room, and Believe
  • Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way
  • When We Come Home, Blake Calls for Fire
  • The Marmalade Man Makes a Dance to Mend Us
  • The King of Cats Sends a Postcard to His Wife
  • The Tiger Asks Blake for a Bedtime Story
  • Blake Tells the Tiger the Tale of the Tailor
  • Epilogue[clarification needed]

Style[edit]

Willard's poetry is metrical and rhyming, simple in many ways but never simplistic. Hints of a larger universe or magical forces at work are never far from the surface. In the central "Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way". most of the characters express wonder and awe at the eternal beauty around them and are rewarded by Blake with gifts of stars, while the rat, sullen and cynical, receives only "a handful of dirt."

The illustrations are beautiful gouache paintings which are whimsical and iconic, making great use of the architecture of Blake's England.

Derivative work[edit]

A Visit to William Blake's Inn has been set to music as a song cycle by American composer Dale Lyles.

Misattribution[edit]

All fifteen poems were written by Willard for the book. One of them, "Two Sunflowers Move into the Yellow Room", has been attributed to Blake many times, especially since 2001 as the error has proliferated online. It has been analysed as Blake's work occasionally and in Britain "many schools have been teaching the poem as an example of Blake's work."[4]

The mistake was discovered by Thomas Pitchford, a secondary school librarian in Hertfordshire, who "thought the style bore little relation to the poet's other work" and pursued the matter.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chris Van Allsburg won the 1982 Caldecott Medal for Jumanji and there were four runners-up.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "A visit to William Blake's inn : poems for innocent and experienced ...". Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2013-06-20. With Publisher description.
  2. ^ "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  3. ^ a b "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". ALSC. ALA.
      "The Randolph Caldecott Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  4. ^ a b Sean Coughlan (June 19, 2013). "School librarian finds fake Blake poem". BBC Online. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
Awards
Preceded by
Jacob Have I Loved
Newbery Medal recipient
1982
Succeeded by
Dicey's Song