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Not my Best Side -- U A Fanthorpe

Guest poem sent in by "Vijay D'silva"
(Poem #438) Not my Best Side

 Not my best side, I'm afraid.
 The artist didn't give me a chance to
 Pose properly, and as you can see,
 Poor chap, he had this obsession with
 Triangles, so he left off two of my
 Feet. I didn't comment at the time
 (What, after all, are two feet
 To a monster?) but afterwards
 I was sorry for the bad publicity.
 Why, I said to myself, should my conqueror
 Be so ostentatiously beardless, and ride
 A horse with a deformed neck and square hoofs?
 Why should my victim be so
 Unattractive as to be inedible,
 And why should she have me literally
 On a string? I don't mind dying
 Ritually, since I always rise again,
 But I should have liked a little more blood
 To show they were taking me seriously.


 It's hard for a girl to be sure if
 She wants to be rescued. I mean, I quite
 Took to the dragon. It's nice to be
 Liked, if you know what I mean. He was
 So nicely physical, with his claws
 And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail,
 And the way he looked at me,
 He made me feel he was all ready to
 Eat me. And any girl enjoys that.
 So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery,
 On a really dangerous horse, to be honest
 I didn't much fancy him. I mean,
 What was he like underneath the hardware?
 He might have acne, blackheads or even
 Bad breath for all I could tell, but the dragon--
 Well, you could see all his equipment
 At a glance. Still, what could I do?
 The dragon got himself beaten by the boy,
 And a girl's got to think of her future.


 I have diplomas in Dragon
 Management and Virgin Reclamation.
 My horse is the latest model, with
 Automatic transmission and built-in
 Obsolescence. My spear is custom-built,
 And my prototype armour
 Still on the secret list. You can't
 Do better than me at the moment.
 I'm qualified and equipped to the
 Eyebrow. So why be difficult?
 Don't you want to be killed and/or rescued
 In the most contemporary way? Don't
 You want to carry out the roles
 That sociology and myth have designed for you?
 Don't you realize that, by being choosy,
 You are endangering job prospects
 In the spear- and horse-building industries?
 What, in any case, does it matter what
 You want? You're in my way.
-- U A Fanthorpe
  There is a refreshing feel about the whole poem. I suppose when you look
at it, you could say it boils down to the story of a boy and a girl in a
painted world. I feel sorry for the dragon though. Why does it have to be
engulfed in that pathetic microcosm of our world just to enable another two
mentally superior apes to continue with their mundane existence?


25 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Meg Worley said...

It's an interesting genre, this new-perspective-on-old-tropes thang.
(Other examples offhand: Gardner's *Grendel* and Ciardi's *The King Who
Saved Himself From Being Saved* in the medieval category, and Rhys's
*Wide Sargasso Sea* and somebody's [Coetzee?] *Foe* later on.) I tend
to read them as comments on the relationship between the present ("Ain't
we so postironic!") and that old stale past. --meg

Petrie France said...

I would like to know what you could tell me about the challenging stereotypes in this poem.

Rab1122 said...



does anyone have any information on the analysis of this poem for the GCSE

Dragon Dave said...

This poem had a marked effect on me when I was studying it at GCSE... essentially it boils down to three perceptions of a single event:
an vain (in the sense of beauty), detached dragon; a nymphomaniac virgin and an immature knight who is vain in the sense of believing
that *he* is the epitome of the best the world can offer.

It should be noted that this poem is associated with an painting by Uccello:
[broken link]

cheerfulsakib said...

does anybody have any notes on 'not my best side'? if so, pls mail me at

The Happy Reaper said...

Yarg; I can't stand this poem. The whole New Generation, 'taking the past and making it relevant by using 'surprising' voices,' thing has been done once too often, and it was never anything much more than a gimmick in the first place. It always feels fake to me.


Celine said...

I thought the peom was good, especially if you are looking at the picture about which it was written as you read it (Saint George and the Dragon). We also had to study it in our english class, and I enjoyed doing that immensely. Even so, it is true the whole 'rewriting old stories in a different way to point out the steriotypes used' is done way too often.

Paula Balzan said...

I was reading through the site of Not my Best Side and saw your comment
about help for GCSE on this poem by U.A. Fanthorpe, do you have any notes on
the poem as I need to do a monologue and I can`t do it.


rajesh said...

this poem is confusing. i cant understand.

rajseh said...


rajesh said...

Help me with poem please....dont understand a single thing. i am going mad...

ACS(I) photog club said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

afa said...
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Anonymous said...

does anyone have a language analysis of Not my Best Side?

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