The end of autumn and the beginning of winter is the perfect time to light some candles, sip pumpkin juice, and re-enter the magical world of Harry Potter. So put on your Hogwarts colors, because today, we’ll be celebrating the poetry and fantasy of Harry Potter!
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When you think of poetry, J.K. Rowling is probably not the first name that comes to mind. However, just like J.R.R. Tolkien, Rowling peppers her books with poems, riddles, and songs that add depth and humor to the books.
Let’s take a look at an example from the first book, when Harry first approaches Gringotts, the wizarding bank. He reads:
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn,
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
What gives this scene an added layer of complexity is that the poem reappears in the final book in the series, when Harry visits Gringotts once again under very different circumstances.
One of the ways Rowling writes poetry is through the “persona” poem. In this type of poem, the person writing (or speaking) the poem is not the author but a made-up character. So, for example, Peeves the Poltergeist and Ginny both write poems that have a very different style. You can read some examples from the series on J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World website.
Rowling also writes a lot of songs throughout the series, from the Hogwarts theme to romantic tunes by the singer Celestina Warbuck. You can find links to articles about all the songs from the series (books and films) on the Harry Potter Fandom site. Also, compare the Sorting Hat songs from different years on Mugglenet.
- How do Rowling’s poems change depending on who is speaking/writing them?
- Try writing your own poetry from the point of view of one of the characters! How can you capture their voice or opinions?
- Do the poems have a different style if they’re sung (like the Hogwarts song and the Sorting Hat songs) versus recited?
- Make up your own tunes and sing these songs!
- Can you think of any other writers who combine their stories with poems, riddles, or songs?
- Why do you think writers might add poems to their books? Does it distract you from the story or help you visualize the whole world the writer is creating?
- Do you like reading poetry mixed with the story? Would you ever use it in your own writing?
Now that you’ve discussed the wondrous world of Harry Potter poetry, it’s time to celebrate with some delicious and magical treats!
- Cauldron cakes: Start with a chocolate cupcake and add marshmallow filling and a chocolate handle for an enchanted snack. Recipe from Pastry Affair.
- Rock cakes: Although Hagrid’s rock cakes are basically inedible, these scone-like baked goods are a traditional teatime treat in the UK. Find the recipe from Christina’s Cucina.
- Pumpkin pasties: If you’re in the mood for something off the trolley on the Hogwarts Express, look no further than these autumnal pastries! The dough and filling take a bit of work, so this recipe from Brownie Bites is an all-hands-on-deck affair.
- Maple syrup candy wands: Although this treat isn’t mentioned in Harry Potter, what’s more magical than a candy wand? This simple treat from MyRecipes.com is great for cold weather and snowy days!
- Pumpkin Juice: Use apple cider, pumpkin puree, and a few other seasonings to create this mysteriously delicious and relatively healthy wizarding drink! Directions from Healthy Slow Cooking (scroll to the bottom of the page).
- Butterbeer: This sweet (non-alcoholic) treat is made from a combination of butterscotch, cream soda, and ice cream. Get the recipe from I Heart Naptime.
- Gillywater: In the books, Gillyweed is described as slimy and rubbery--not ideal for a drink! But Geeks Who Eat have managed to preserve the essence of gillyweed and create a refreshing cucumber-and-mint drink for curious minds!
Do these drinks live up to your expectations from the books? If they don’t taste like you’d imagined, why not try to create your own version of Pumpkin Juice or Gillywater? You’ll need:
- Drink base options: apple juice, apple cider, water, soda(s), sparkling water
- Add-ins: pumpkin puree, apples, herb leaves (like mint or basil), cucumbers, other fruits or veggies
- Seasonings: honey, sugar, maple syrup, spices from your spice cabinet (with supervision!)
- Tools: cookie cutters to make fun shapes, a blender to create your final product
Once everyone has crafted their dream drinks, have a sampling and see whose drink is your favorite!
Set the stage for a magical teatime with these decorative elements.
- Floating candles: Even if the ceiling of your living room doesn’t reflect the sky outside, you can still add some Hogwarts atmosphere with these DIY floating candles made from TP rolls, glue, and tea lights. Directions from The Sway.
- Letters in the fireplace: Use strings of lights or thread to create the effect of Hogwarts letters spilling out of your fireplace! If you don’t have a fireplace, hang the letters above your table or scatter them across the table instead. See the link above for Pinterest inspiration.
- Other Harry Potter atmospheric decorations:
- Create a sign and hooks for hanging up invisibility cloaks
- Use candles to set the mood for your teatime
- Decorate each person’s chair with their house colors or print out these Hogwarts house banners from Doodle Craft Blog
- Play music from the films during your teatime!
Of course, as always, be sure to share your wondrous teatime stories with us here!
Books to Read
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (illustrated edition)
Don’t Bump the Glump!: And Other Fantasies, by Shel Silverstein
The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky
Riddle-Lightful: Oodles of Little Riddle Poems, by J. Patrick Lewis
Grimericks, by Susan Pearson
Poetry for Young People: Edgar Allan Poe, Edited by Brod Bagert