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Poem 10 - The Tale of Custard the Dragon

This article will help you to learn about the summary, characters, literary devices and themes in the poem,  ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’.

Synopsis 

Written by Ogden Nash, ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ is a humorous poem about a cowardly dragon named, Custard. Custard is one of the pets of Belinda, a little girl who lives in a white house. Among other pets of Belinda is a black kitten named Ink, a grey mouse named Blink, and a yellow dog – Mustard. Ink, Blink and Mustard are described as brave in the poem and they are compared with animals like tiger or lion, but the dragon is very timid. He always demands a safe place for himself. All other animals make fun of him.

One night, a pirate breaks into the house, frightening all of them. They start running and hiding here and there. But to everyone’s surprise, Custard not only tackles him but also eats him up. Everyone thanks him for saving their lives. They also realise that they used to make fun of the dragon because of his lack of courage. So, all of them suddenly start saying that they are braver and could have handled the situation in a much better way, and Custard agrees. The poet has tried to put forward the idea that sometimes a timid person comes out to be the actual hero in the toughest situations of life.

Character List 

Following are the characters of the poem:

  1. A little girl named Belinda.

  2. A coward dragon whose name is Custard.

  3. A black kitten named is Ink.

  4. A grey mouse named Blink.

  5. A dog named Mustard because he is yellow in colour.

Literary/ Poetic Devices used 

Rhyme scheme: Each of the 14 stanzas in the poem follows the AABB rhyme scheme. Each stanza is composed of a pair of rhymed couplets.

Oxymoron: In this poem, the poet uses the device of an oxymoron when he writes the phrase ‘pet dragon’. We know that dragons are dangerous creatures, and therefore, cannot be kept as pets.

Simile: In this poem, the poet uses the device of simile in the 3rd line of the 2nd stanza when he compares Belinda’s dog with mustard, saying that both are sharp, and also uses the word ‘as’ while making the comparison. The poet also uses this device in the 3rd line of the 3rd stanza when he compares the dragon’s mouth with a fireplace, and also uses the word ‘like’ while making this comparison.

Metaphor: In this poem, the poet uses the device of metaphor in the 3rd line of the 3rd stanza when he compares the dragon’s nose with a chimney.

Personification: In this poem, the poet uses the device of personification with respect to Belinda’s kitten, mouse, and dog. In the 2nd line of the 5th stanza, he gives them all the human ability to speak to and tease another being.

Onomatopoeia: In this poem, the poet uses the device of onomatopoeia in the 2nd line of the 6th stanza, where he uses the word ‘week’ to describe the sound a mouse makes while giggling.

Themes:

The poem revolves around the theme that one should not judge a book by its cover: Custard is always mocked for being cowardly, whereas the others are quite brave. However, when a pirate breaks into Belinda’s house, she, Ink, Blink and Mustard- are all very frightened. It is Custard who charges at the pirate and eats him alive. The one who had seemed to be the biggest coward is the one who saves everyone at the end. On the other hand, the pirate had been full of bravado when he was entering the house, but he loses all of that as soon as he sees Custard approaching him. He can only stare at Custard and have a drink to prepare himself for the unavoidable fate of being gobbled up. Thus, neither Custard nor the pirate is what they seem to be. Therefore, we should never judge someone without fully getting to know them. When the situation demands it, they are bound to show their true colours which may surprise us.

To find the tale of custard the dragon questions, the tale of custard the dragon short question answer, the tale of custard the dragon extra questions, you can refer to the solutions PDF.

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