Poetry Friday: A Small Dragon

h1 June 19th, 2009 by jules

Just when I thought that, for once, I’d chosen a poem written for adults, I inadvertently chose one this week that, evidently, has been adopted by the children’s poetry world as well.

This comes from British poet Brian Patten. It was first published in Love Poems (Flamingo/HarperCollins, 1990) and intended for an adult readership, though Patten has written children’s poetry as well.

I love this short, outstretched hand of a poem. I don’t want to go on too much about what it means to me, as I think a great deal of its appeal is its ability to invite the reader in, leaving room for many interpretations. I called it an outstretched hand, but it can also be a dare. An accusation. A wink. And so much more. Enjoy.

“I’ve found a small dragon in the woodshed.
Think it must have come from deep inside a forest
because it’s damp and green and leaves
are still reflecting in its eyes.

I fed it on many things, tried grass,
the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion,
but it stared up at me as if to say, I need
food you can’t provide…”

You can read the rest here.

Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

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13 comments to “Poetry Friday: A Small Dragon”

  1. How could I not have seen this poem before?? I love it. And I would’ve loved it as a child too.


  2. I think this is my first Brian Patten poem. What a gem! Love your describing it as an outstretched hand. Perfect.


  3. This so TOTALLY reminds me of JELLABY!! Perfect to pair with the book.


  4. I love this poem! Thanks for sharing it.


  5. I have to ask if you’re still reading Cold Comfort Farm, Jules, because for a bit there the woodshed had me all distracted.

    Good poem, though.


  6. Adrienne, I read the first page, and then I got the ARC you sent me. With apologies to Cold Comfort Farm, I put it down ’til I finish this ARC. And then I got a dastardly, evil head cold this week and have barely read at all. Blech. I’ll probably have to turn in CCF and then check it out again, at this point.

    But I do plan to read it.

    Thanks, all. It’s a great poem, isn’t it?


  7. Oh, I like that — I now have to seek out more of this guy. What a lovely little poem, and a challenging little twist on the end — do you come to me, or do I hurry to you? Hm…


  8. Oh YES. I had to read this one over about 5 times before I could let go enough to comment. “Outstretched hand” indeed.

    and adrienne, I had the same reaction to the first sentence. Had to stop and giggle a bit.


  9. The narrator of this poem (I don’t mean Patten, but the “I”) is at once so meticulously generous and so appreciative of nature (magical and otherwise) and his friendship with the “you” — so much all those things, that he almost (almost) manages to hide how sad and lonely and, well, tragic he is. I wonder what kids would say about this, on the question of “Do you think the ‘you’ will do as the narrator hopes?”

    [And jeez, it's so liberating to have reached the weekend and not be confined by The Employer's views on "productive Internet usage."]


  10. John, duuuuuuuude. I’m still so sorry. Everyone loses out when you can’t come and leave your great comments daily, but we understand. Maybe The Employer will change its mind soon.


  11. Beautiful. I, too, would love to hear how children interpret the poem. The magic and sadness drew me in completely.


  12. this is truly a lovely poem. it seems i am not the only one who thinks so… thank you for sharing it with all of us.


  13. You had me at dragon.
    (Falkor! Fiddlestick!)


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