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10th English NCERT: First Flight - Footprints without feet

The Tale of Custard the Dragon Poem: 10th English Ch 21

The Tale of Custard the Dragon Poem: 10th Class NCERT CBSE English ‘First Flight’ Chapter 20

Question: Who are the characters in this poem? List them with their pet names.

Answer: The characters in this poem are Belinda, a little girl, and her pets: a little black kitten, a little grey mouse, a little yellow dog, a little pet dragon and a pirate.

Question: Why did Custard cry for a nice safe cage? Why is the dragon called “cowardly dragon”?

Answer: Custard cried for a nice safe cage because it was a coward and was scared very easily. It is called “cowardly dragon” because everyone else in the house is very brave while the dragon is the only one, who fears a lot and looks for a nice safe cage for himself. Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears, Ink and Blink can chase lions and Mustard is as brave as an angry tiger.

Question: “Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful…” Why?

Answer: Tickling always works on people, who are a little softer. So, Belinda tickled the dragon unmerciful as it worked a lot on him. Despite being a dragon, a tickling could disturb him and this showed his cowardice on which everyone laughed.

Question: The poet has employed many poetic devices in the poem. For example “Clashed his tail like iron in a dungeon” – the poetic device here is a simile. Can you, with your partner, list some more such poetic devices used in the poem?

Answer: In the poem, ‘The tale of Custard, the Dragon’, the poet has used a lot of poetic devices. Following are the devices used

  1. Simile: mouth like a fireplace
  2. Repetition: the repetitive use of the word ‘little’ in stanza 1.

Question: Can you find out the rhyme scheme of two or three stanzas of the poem?

Answer: The rhyme scheme of the poem is ‘aabb’.

Question: 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?

Answer: Writers always use such phrases and words that do not tell us directly about what they mean but always gives us an indication of the meaning. Such words or phrases are used to trigger our own imagination in painting the picture that they mean. Use of such images in the poem is the following: ‘mouth like a fireplace’, ‘chimney for a nose’, ‘brave as a barrel full of bears’, ‘brave as a tiger in a rage’, ‘went at the pirate like a robin at a worm’, etc.

Question: Do you find ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ to be a serious or a light-hearted poem? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer: ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ is a very light and funny poem meant to be enjoyed by everyone. The way the poem has been written with a fix rhyme scheme, makes it very easy and enjoyable to read. The poet has even used wrong spelling to maintain the rhyme scheme. The features of Belinda and her pets described in the poem make it quite funny. Belinda’s bravery has been compared to a barrel full of bears, a liquid substance. All the tiny creatures such as the kitten and the mouse have been shown so brave that they can scare a lion and the dog’s bravery is like a tiger’s rage. The biggest of them all, the dragon is the only one, who has been shown as a coward and soft being, who looks for a cage for himself, which is very ironic, hence making the poem funny.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon Poem: Summary

The tale of custard the dragon is a ballad. It is a humorous poem about a cowardly dragon named custard. Custard is a pet of Belinda, a little girl who lives in a little white house with her pets. She had a black kitten named ink, a grey mouse named blink, a yellow dog mustard and a cowardly dragon custard. The poet says that all of them are very brave except the dragon. Others were described as brave and are compared with animals like bear, tiger or lion but the dragon is very timid. He always demands a safe place for himself. All the other characters make fun of him. But one night they are surprised by the entry of a pirate in the house. All of them get frightened and start hiding here and there. But to everyone’s surprise, the dragon not only tackles him but also eats him up. As all of them are saved by custard, they thank him. But at the end, they realize that they used to make fun of the dragon because of his being timid. So, all of them suddenly start saying that they are more brave and could have handled the situation in a much better way. Here the poet has tried to say that sometimes a timid person is the actual hero in the toughest situations of life.

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