The poem ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ has been explained with literal meanings line by line as well as the implied and literary meanings as what the poet wants to say and convey through the different stanzas in the poem ‘The tale of Custard the Dragon’ poem. This poem is like a parody of ballad presented comically but with a subtle message. Go through the explanations given stanza wise.
Central Idea ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’
‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ is a funny poem that tells the story of a little girl Belinda and her pets. Belinda lives with her little pets, a kitten, a mouse, a dog and a dragon, in her little house. Belinda and all her pets except the dragon have been described as very brave creatures. But the dragon is such a coward, that it is always looking for the safety in a cage.
The dragon, however, surprised everyone with his heroic act of killing a pirate, who had come to Belinda’s house and meant harm to her and her pets. The pet has tried to convey a message in this simple poem ‘never’ judge a book by its cover. Dragon who is generally meek and coward shows his bravery at the right moment and saves everyone from the pirate.
The Tale of Custard the Dragon Poem Explanation
Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little grey mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.
This first stanza of the poem introduces the readers with the characters of the poem with a little girl Belinda being the host and others as her strange and unusual pets. Belinda lived in a little white house with her pets and a wagon. Her pets include a black kitten, a little grey mouse, a little yellow dog and a little pet dragon.
The ‘realio trulio’ here are devised by the poet as poetic license to produce rhyme and also to show that the word ‘dragon’ is no mockery and it really meant a dragon but like a little pet.
Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little grey 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.
In this stanza, the poet described the names of Belinda’s pets. Her little black kitten was named Ink, the little grey mouse was named Blink, and the little yellow dog was named Mustard due to his sharp and bright yellow colour. However, Belinda named her dragon Custard because he was a coward. as he was not brave and feared a lot.
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.
This stanza is devoted to describing ‘Custard’ having the features of a dragon that makes dragons powerful and scary. There were spikes on his top while scales underneath. The poet said that Custard’s mouth was fiery red and hot like a fireplace while his nose was like a big chimney that emitted huge warm breaths – The poet had used simile to draw comparisons of the dragon with fireplace and chimneys. His toe-nails were like daggers on his feet as he had dagger-like sharp spikes 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.
In this stanza we are told how brave Belinda and her pets were. Belinda is described as brave as many bears combined into one i.e. she alone was equal to the powers of many bears. Ink and Blink are small in size but have the power to scare and chase away someone as strong as a lion. Belinda’s dog’s bravery has been compared to that of a tiger’s anger. But Custard is completely opposite to his physical description and instead of being brave, always looks for a nice safe cage i.e. he tries to hide and escape from the situations.
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.
Custard was not as brave as others and others made fun and mockery him. Belinda used to tickle (touch) the dragon but in an unmerciful manner as she might be tickling without stopping. It should be noted here that tickling is a very soft touch on body and it is related to softness. Since the dragon was such a coward, tickling worked on him. It does not work on rough bodies; hence it’s another proof of the dragon’s softness. It was rudely mocked as Percival by Ink, Blink and Mustard. Seeing the dragon react to the tickling made all of them laugh and they laughed in the wagon at the 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.
Belinda laughed at the cowardice of Custard so loud that she shook the whole house with her big laughter. Blink the mouse laughed at Custard too. When Custard asked to live in a nice safe cage, the kitten Ink and the dog Mustard asked Custard about his age as they wanted to make fun of Custard by calling him a baby
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.
While all of them were busy making fun of the dragon, there came a very unpleasant sound from the house. Mustard, the dog, looked around growling for the source of that sound. Ink cried ‘Meowch’ and Belinda cried ‘Ooh’ when they saw that there was a pirate climbing the window of the house to loot it.
Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one led was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.
The appearance of the pirate seemed very dangerous as he was carrying many arms with him. He had a pistol in both hands and he was carrying a bright sharp blade between his teeth as well. He had black beard and a wooden led indicating that he was a tough man, who must have lost his leg in some fight or battle. His looks made it very clear to the housemates that the pirate meant to harm the people and pets living there.
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.
Looking at the pirate, Belinda became pale with fear and cried for help. All her brave pets could not help her and everyone fled from the scene. Mustard made a huge cry and ran away; Ink silently wen to the bottom of the house and blink very smartly disappeared in a mouse hole, leaving Belinda all alone in front of the pirate. Their bravery could not do them any good.
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.
When everyone fled on seeing the pirate, it was the coward dragon, Custard who came to rescue and fought the pirate bravely. He jumped in front of the pirate and made large noises through his nose like an engine, indicating his anger. He started to move his tail and it made clattering sounds like an iron rod striking the walls of a prison in a dungeon. With all these dangerous sounds, he followed the pirate like a robin follows a worm to eat it.
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.
Custard shocked the pirate and he took a good look at him and drank some wine from a bottle that he carried in his pocket. The pirate then took out his pistol and fired two bullets of Custard. But he failed to hit him and Custard remained unharmed. Then Custard swallowed the whole pirate, without leaving any trace of him.
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 pirate.
Everyone was surprised to see the bravery of Custard and so were their reactions of relief and appreciation. Belinda hugged Custard to appreciate him for his bravery. Mustard the dog licked him with love. The kitten and mouse danced happily around Custard who was eating the body of the pirate, to show him their love. It seemed a celebrating moment for the act of bravery as well the death of the deathly enemy the pirate. Nobody mourned for the pirate who was gobbled up by custard.
But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I’d have been twice as brave if I hadn’t been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We’d have been three times as brave, we think,
And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me
It became very clear that, who is brave and who is a coward after the pirate incident. But, Mustard started to give excuses for his cowardice and said that he would have been twice as brave as Custard if he had not got nervous, when the pirate came. Ink and Blink said that they would have been thrice as brave as the dragon. They could not believe that Custard, the coward dragon, had done such a heroic act and so they started giving excuses for running away. The humble dragon accepted that he was the most coward and everyone was braver than him.
Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little grey mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio little pet dragon.
Here the poet talks of as how after the fearful incident of the pirate breaking into the house, the lives of Belinda and her pets went back to normal. To show this, the poet had repeated stanza one which states that Belinda still lived in the same little white house with her kitten, mouse, dog and dragon. She still owned that little red wagon
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
This stanza is same as the fourth stanza of the poem. This repetition is shown to affirm no change after the scenario after the scary incident of the pirate. The story of Belinda’s house was still the same even after Custard was proved to be the bravest of them all.
The stanza here also leaves the readers thinking as how can custard the dragon be again same as was shown a coward one and then the mind seeks to get a message from the poem that would be his or her own from the poem. do you have got any? If yes then mention in the comment box given below.