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The Tale of Custard the Dragon -- Ogden Nash

Guest poem submitted by Vivian Eden:
(Poem #1672) The Tale of Custard the Dragon
 Belinda lived in a little white house,
 With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
 And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
 And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

 Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
 And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
 And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
 But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

 Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
 And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
 Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
 And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

 Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
 And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
 Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
 But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

 Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
 Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
 They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
 At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

 Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
 And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
 Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
 When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

 Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
 And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
 Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
 For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

 Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
 And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
 His beard was black, one leg was wood;
 It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

 Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
 But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
 Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
 And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.

 But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
 Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
 With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
 He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

 The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
 And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
 He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
 And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

 Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
 No one mourned for his pirate victim
 Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
 Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

 Belinda still lives in her little white house,
 With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
 And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
 And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

 Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
 And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
 Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
 But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.
-- Ogden Nash
If the theme is beasts gobbling people, then Custard is essential. I think
chidren love this poem so much because it ends with everything satisfyingly
back to normal after all the excitement and they can fall asleep free of
fears of dragons and pirates, and grownups love it because it is very acute
in its psychology -- Doesn't everyone know people like all the characters in
this poem, including Custard? -- and because it is so much fun to read
aloud. And of course keeping a cowardly pet dragon around is an excellent
way to tame fears and at the same time to get rid of unwanted intruders,
especially if you are a brave little girl like Belinda. As for the poetry,
my favorite lines are: "Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,  /
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed." The verb for Ink is
brilliant, and the rhyme is priceless, with "mouseholed" a wink at the habit
that American English at least has of taking a noun and making a verb of it
-- "to backpack," "to party."

On the Internet, an Ogden Nash site  with good links is at
        http://www.poetrymagazine.com/archives/2001/May01/nash.htm

Vivian.

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