“When We Come Home, Blake Calls For Fire”
- by Nancy Willard
Fire, you handsome creature, shine.
Let the hearth where I confine
your hissing tongues that rise and fall
be the home that warms us all.
When the wind assaults my doors
every corner’s cold but yours.
When the snow puts earth to sleep
let your bright behavior keep
all these little pilgrims warm.
They who never did you harm
raise their paws a little higher
and toast their toes, in praise of fire.
This is only one of the irresistibly imaginative and alluring verses in Nancy Willard’s book titled A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. I chose this one to share because it seemed so appropriate to the season underway.
I can hardly believe I am only just now discovering Nancy Willard. She has written so many books – and she’s from Michigan, born in Ann Arbor and educated all the way through a doctorate from the U of M. Now a couple of my regular local customers tell me they knew Willard and her photographer husband, Eric Lindbloom, in upstate New York. Marjorie was a long-time admirer of Willard’s books before meeting the author at an exhibition of Lindbloom’s photography.
I feel a little silly for not knowing Nancy Willard’s work before, especially since she was the first Newbery winner for a volume of poetry, but I am determined to remedy my deficiencies. On the day before Thanksgiving, I read the entire Visit to William Blake’s Inn, completely charmed and won over by the verses, and I am ordering several more of Nancy Willard’s books right away, so as to have a good stock in for holiday shoppers. I suspect that many parents and grandparents, poetry-lovers and poetry-phobes alike, will instantly fall in love with this Michigan writer, as I have done.
You're right. Nancy Willard seems to be a very accomplished poet. "Toast[ing] their toes in praise of fire" is delightful!
What makes the book even more interesting is the varying length and meter and form of the poems. I'm very eager to have other books of hers very soon!
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