Friday, February 02, 2007

Poetry Tag

I love poetry. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my dad reading poetry to us when we were kids, especially Ogden Nash's "The Tale of Custard the Dragon."

This is my favorite poem of all time.

Here for your reading pleasure is "The Tale of Custard the Dragon."

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 him Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

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.

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.

Belinda tickled him, she ticked 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 giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Weeek!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

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.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright;
His beard was black, one leg was wood.
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

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.

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.

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.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him;
No one mourned for his pirate victim.
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon who ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

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.

- Ogden Nash

I tag everyone whose blog is listed over on the right, as well as those who aren't! That means you, too!

P.S. I grew up reading this poem out of Louis Untermeyer's The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry with illustrations by Joan Walsh Anglund. It's an excellent book to have if you want a collection of good, old, classic, simple poems. There's a new printing of Nash's poem out now with illustrations by Lynn Musinger. You can get the Untermeyer compilation here and the Musinger book here.


Rachel said...

That was really cute. I never really read much poetry when I was young. I did read the End Of The Sidewalk books but other than that.
My brother had to write a limerick in school and I remember it to this day so I will write that one for your reading pleasure:

There once was a man from Napal
Who was invited to a masquerade ball
He decided to risk it
And dressed as a biscuit
But a dog ate him up in the hall.

E :) said...

I'll post on this later in the day. It's 3.30am here at the moment!

NG said...

My favorite kids' poem ever! When my daughter was born, I scoured the web to find the exact book that I had with that poem in it. I read it over and over. Thanks for the nostalgia!

JMK said...

Rachel: Excellent! I love limericks. Do you ever listen to "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me" on NPR on Saturday mornings? They have a segment where they tell news stories using limericks. It's quite good and really funny.

e:) : 3:30!! Good heavens! Go to bed. Wait... Let's see. It's probably midday by now on Saturday where you are, right? Well, I'll have to hop over to Talking Budgie and check out your poem. The only Australian poet I know is A.B. "Banjo" Patterson. I'm sure you're rolling your eyes right now and thinking, "If one more person mentions 'The Man From Snowy River" again, I'm going to scream." I beg of you, enlighten us!

NG: I host a brunch and poetry reading every couple of years at my house and this is the poem I always choose to read. It's a huge hit! I love this poem. And, I just bought the children's book! It should be here Tuesday. Can't wait!

E :) said...

I woke up because a house was on fire two doors down to me... Long night.

I'll post the poem now.

JMK said...

e:) : I read that over on your blog a couple of hours ago. That must have been frightening!

deborah oak said...

fantastic. My favorite as a child was a poem called "The Raggedy Man"..I'm going to go try and find it. Thank you!!!!

JMK said...

Deborah: Welcome! Thanks for organizing the poetry event! If you get a chance, pop over to e:) and NG's blogs. They both posted excellent poems.