The Tale of Custard the Dragon Poetic Devices

The poetic and literary devices used in the poem ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ are given here. The major poetic devices are discussed. Poetic devices enhance the impact and appeal of poems.


Poetic Devices 


A few key literary elements in the poem are:  

Rhyme scheme 

The rhyme scheme of the poem is ‘aabb’. However, for stanza 13, the rhyme scheme is  aabbcc

Ballad  

  • The poem is in the form of a ballad – a long poem usually set to music.  
  • The poet Nash uses this form to narrate the tale of Custard the dragon and how he defeats a pirate.  

Simile  

Simile is a poetic device used by the poet to draw a clear comparison between two or more things or people with the help of words ‘like’ and ‘as’. 

  • The phrases – ‘sharp as Mustard’, ‘mouth like a fireplace’, ‘as brave as a barrel full of bears’, ‘brave as a tiger in a cage’, ‘snorting like an engine’, and ‘clashed his tail like iron in a dungeon’ pirate like a robin – are examples of simile in the poem.  
  • Through this device, Nash creates humorous descriptions of the characters in the poem.  

Metaphor:  

Metaphor is a literary device used to represent a comparison without using the words “like” or “as”.  

  • chimney for a nose 
  • And realio, trulio daggers on his toes 

Repetition  

  • The poet uses repetition at various points in the poem to create a rhythmical effect in the poem. He also uses it to build humour in the poem.  
  • For example, the word ‘little’ has been repeated multiple times in the first two stanzas.  
  • Similarly –  
  • Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful. 
  • Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound. 
  • Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right 

Onomatopoeia  

This poetic device is used by the poet to describe the sounds produced with the help of the words. It uses the sound-descriptive words like ‘hiss’, ‘bang’, ‘splash’, etc. 

  • The word ‘weeck’ is an example of onomatopoeia in the poem. It mimics the sound of a rat’s giggle.  
  • Similarly, ‘Meowch’ for cat’s sound 
  • Similarly, the words ‘clatter’, ‘clank’ and ‘jangling’ are examples of onomatopoeia in the poem.  

Poetic License  

  • When a poet disregards the rules of language, he uses poetic license in his works.  
  • The words ‘realio’, ‘trulio’ and ‘weeck’ are made up words that Nash uses to impart humour to the poem. Through this, he practises poetic license.  
  • Also, he has changed window to ‘winda’ to maintain the rhyme scheme of the poem.  

Alliteration  

Alliteration is the repetitions of the same sound used in the beginning of the closely placed words. 

  • The line ‘Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears’ is an example of alliteration in the poem.  
  • Other examples –  
  • Belinda lived in a little white house. 
  • And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright. 
  • With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm. 
  • And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon. 

Allusion  

An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place, thing, and idea.  

  • In the poem, the characters make fun of Custard by calling him ‘Percival’.  
  • Percival was one of King Arthur’s knights who was known for running away due to lack of courage.  
  • Thus, the characters call Custard ‘Percival’ because they consider him a coward.  

Irony  

  • In the poem, Nash has used irony to show that while Belinda and her pets considered themselves brave, they ultimately ran from the pirate.  
  • Also, though Custard cried for a cage, in the end he bravely confronted the pirate.  

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