Explanation of the Poem
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.
The poem opens with the introducing the characters of the poem, namely, Belinda, a little girl who 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 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.
Belinda had named her little black kitten as Ink and her little gray mouse was called Blink. The colour of her dog was as sharp and yellow as Mustard and her dragon was called Custard. Here, the readers are introduced to the cowardice of Custard 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.
The description of Custard’s physical appearance seems quite surprising to the readers as it has been shown as carrying all the features of a dragon that makes dragons powerful, scary and brave. It has big sharp teeth and spikes on its back that could easily scare anyone away. Custard also has the ability to spit fire which makes its mouth look like a fireplace showing his power. And his nose becomes like chimney through which the smoke comes out from the fire in his mouth. Custard’s toes are so pointed and sharp that they could cut anything like a dagger.
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.
All the members of the house except Custard are very brave. Belinda’s bravery has been compared to the bravery of many bears combined together. Ink and Blink, despite being so small in size have the power to scare and chase away someone as strong as a lion. Her 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.
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 used to tickle (touch) the dragon without stopping and she did it quite cruelly to make it laugh. 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 named 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 a lot at the dragon, she laughed so hard that it seemed that the house is shaking due to her laughter. Blink, the mouse used to say ‘Week’, which is the giggling sound for mouse. Ink and Mustard asked dragon’s age to make fun of him as it shows that the dragon behaved like a small kid would do but he was not so small kid. Custard just wanted a nice safe cage for himself.
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.
After the Custard ate the pirate, to everyone’s surprise, there was joy all over the house. Belinda, embraced him to express gratitude for saving everyone. Mustard licked the dragon as that’s how a dog shows it love for someone. Everyone celebrated the death of the pirate and there was no grief. Ink and Blink started dancing around the dragon out of happiness.
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.
Central Idea of Poem
‘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.
Poetic Devices Used in the Poem
Simile : When comparison is made between two words using ‘like’ or ‘as’.
- Moth like a fireplace
- Belinda was as brave as a barrel
- And the little
- Suddenly, suddenly they heard
- Belinda paled and she cried Help! Help!
- Snorting like an engine
- Clashed his tails like irons in a dungeon
- He went at the pirate like a robin at the worm
Alliteration : Repetition of initial consonant sounds in the same line.
And he held in his teeth.
Every stanza of the poem has the rhyme scheme aabb.
In stanza 13, rhyme scheme is aabbcc.