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“The Tale of Custard the Dragon” is beautifully composed by Ogden Nash. In this poem, there is a girl by the name of Belinda who has several pets which include Mustard, a yellow dog; Ink, a black kitten; Blink, a grey mouse; and lastly Custard, a dragon. Everyone always makes fun of Custard for his cowardice. But in the end, it is Custard, the coward dragon, who saved Belinda’s house from the attack of pirates.
Who are the characters in this poem ? List them with their pet names.
The characters in this poem are (i) a black kitten named Ink, (ii) a grey mouse named Blink, (iii) a yellow dog named Mustard, (iv) a little dragon named Custard and (v) their owner whose name is Belinda.
Why did Custard cry for a nice safe cage ? Why is the dragon called ‘cowardly dragon’ ?
Custard’s mistress, Belinda, always teased him in an unmerciful manner. Other pets in the house also laughed at him. They would rudely call him Percival (a character in old romances known for his childish habits). This was the reason why Custard wanted to live alone and cried for a nice safe cage. But for this demand of the poor dragon, Ink, Blink and Mustard called him ‘cowardly dragon’. They said that he was behaving in a childish manner.
“Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful...” Why ?
Why did Belinda tickle the dragon ?
Belinda teased Custard by tickling him unmercifully to tease him. Poor Custard was disturbed badly. For this, Belinda considered him a coward. Since Custard was a dragon, Belinda expected him to be brave. This was the reason why she tickled him unmercifully.
The poet has employed many poetic devices in the poem. For example, “Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon” — the poetic device here is a simile. Can you, with your partner, list some more such poetic devices used in this poem ?
The poetic devices used in the poem are —
- Alliteration —
- And he held in his teeth.
- Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears.
- Simile —
- Snorting like an engine.
- Mouth like a fireplace.
- Belinda was as brave as a barrel.
- Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon.
- Repetition —
- Suddenly, suddenly, they heard.
- ....... and she cried ‘Help ! Help !’
Read stanza three again to know how the poet describes the appearance of the dragon.
Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth. He had spikes on his head and scales on his chest. His mouth was like a fireplace. The nose looked like a chimney breathing out smoke. And there were real daggers on his toes.
Can you find out the rhyme scheme of two or three stanzas of the poem ?
The rhyme scheme used in all the stanzas of the poem is aabb.
Writers use words to give us a picture or image without actually saying what they mean. Can you trace some images used in the poem ?
The images used in the poem suggest to us what the poet means to say. Some of those images are —
- Mouth like a fireplace
- ....... chimney for a nose
- ....... as brave as a barrel full of bears
- ....... as brave as a tiger in a rage
- ....... snorting like an engine
- ....... his tail like irons in a dungeon
Do you find The Tale of Custard the Dragon to be a serious or a light-hearted poem ? Give reasons to support your answer.
‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ is a light-hearted poem, but it conveys a serious message. It tells us that the people who are unassuming and make no proud professions, prove their worth when the occasion demands it. In this poem, the poet tries to ridicule those persons who put up faces of being very brave and courageous, but in times of crisis prove to be big cowards.