Ogden Nash and Dragons

Today I’m pondering poetry (yes, poetry can deal with dragons!), but a quick note first:

I’ve learned that in the blogging world, as anywhere, you shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep. Last week, I promised I would be back on Monday, but it’s not Monday—it’s already Tuesday. Not only that, when I started this blog, I said I would post every Monday and Wednesday—yet some weeks I post on Tuesday or Friday or some other day instead. My new goal? Instead of promising that my posts will appear on certain days and then feeling guilty when life happens and I don’t make it, I’ll aim for Monday/Wednesday posts yet promise nothing more than to stay as close to two posts a week as I humanly can. Deal?

Now on to the poetry:

I was thinking about Ogden Nash yesterday. Have you heard of him? He’s the poet (1902-1971) who wrote wonderfully catchy little rhymes like God in His wisdom made the fly / and then forgot to tell us why or The trouble with a kitten is that / eventually it becomes a cat. A lot of his poems showed up in various beloved anthologies from my childhood, and I still remember poems like these two:

Ogden Nash photo

This guy wrote some entertaining stuff.
Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

The Centipede
I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he’s not,
Or, if he is, he makes a spot.”

Experiment Degustatory
A gourmet challenged me to eat
A tiny bit of rattlesnake meat,
Remarking, ‘Don’t look horror-stricken.
You’ll find it tastes a lot like chicken.’
It did.
Now chicken I cannot eat,
Because it tastes like rattlesnake meat.”


To this day, I still swear by the truth of his statements on centipedes, and I’m terribly curious to know what rattlesnake tastes like. On my to-read-someday list is a collection of Nash’s work—I’ve only ever read a few scattered pieces in varying anthologies.

Yes, one of those was about a dragon: Custard the Cowardly Dragon, to be exact. When I was looking it up online to share with you, I discovered that The Tale of Custard the Cowardly Dragon was even made into an illustrated children’s book. Who knew? I had only ever seen it in poem-form in an anthology. It’s definitely meant for children, but I still think it’s really cute. It begins:

The Tale of Custard the Cowardly Dragon (cover image)

Don’t the illustrations look cute? I want to find this book!
Image borrowed from goodreads.com

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.

It goes on to explain:

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.


Want a hint about what happens next when a nasty pirate shows up? Let’s just say that even a cowardly dragon can be brave and save the day. You can find the full poem online here; I still haven’t found the book for myself, so I can’t comment on the illustrated form of the story.

Have you read The Tale of Custard the Cowardly Dragon or any other poems by Ogden Nash? What about other dragon poems? Maybe you aren’t into poetry, but Custard’s story is still worth checking out! 😉 I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

Categories: Children's | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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