Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dear Puff the Magic Dragon.



One of the great things about PBS is that it's programming reflects the variety of interests of it's viewers.  And another  good thing about it is that most pledge  fests, they show a reprise of a Peter, Paul and Mary concert, and I get to hear and see, a performance of "Puff the Magic Dragon". 

In 1959,  Leonard Lipton, then  19 and a student at Cornell, wrote the poem about Jackie paper and that "rascal Puff" a magical dragon, but then aren't all dragons magical. who lived in the "Land of Honalee".  {The poem was inspired by "Custard the Dragon" by Ogden Nash.}  And a friend of his, Peter Yarrow set his words to music. 

We are much the richer for that.  I remember the first time I heard  "Puff" on that old grey Zenith radio in the kitchen, late in the evening over some algebra that I was never to master.   A sweet kids song, I thought, with pretty lyrics and a prettier melody.   The thought of Puff loosing his friend made me cry, how I love that song.

Dragons, are mysterious and you never know what their character will be like, will they like humans as friends or will they prefer them as a snack.  I was and still am totally absorbed in all things dinosaur, and I wondered if there was any connection. Decades later I learned of the dinosaur bones  were kept and venerated in Greek temples, and the theory that these bones had been refleshed by the minds of those ancients as dragons and griffins and chimeras  OH MY!  

But I love that "rascal Puff". and wished that I could have a ride on his tail, and share adventures on his island when I was a kid.    And when that gray day came that I, well no that is too scary a thought as  obviously I have worked hard to keep from growing up, but if i did I would bring my children back to enjoy the a voyage of imagination. 





Custard the Dragon
by Ogden Nash


 


THE TALE OF CUSTARD THE DRAGON


By Ogden Nash

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 was 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.
© Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt
1936



PUFF, THE MAGIC DRAGON

words by Leonard Lipton
music by Peter Yarrow




Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giants' rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.




I think I was 11 or 12 when this song came out. Immediately, I thought Puff was a kite. He is made from paper (Jackie Paper). Jackie would bring him string and sealing wax (which used to be used when making a kite) Jackie kept a look out perched on tail, could be the string you hold when flying your kite. The wind is used to keep a kite going (billowed sails). And then Jackie gets older and moves on.
Real Meaning | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/27/11
  Peter said, "What kind of SOB would write a drug propaganda song in diguise as a children's song?". In other words, he would not

 
 

 
 
 

by~~Sun Gazing

A tiny dragon discovered in Indonesia.
 She was found laying eggs in a nest in the Lambusango Forest reserve and was immediately released after this photograph was taken.
 Species may be related to the species Draco Volans, and no word yet on whether or not this thing guards castles or breathes fire.

















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