The Dragon (and George) by Michael Keeble


A Piece from our new ‘recruit’. It could fit one of our earliest triggers, to write the ‘true’ story behind a Nursery rhyme. (Or make one up.)

The Dragon (and George) by Michael Keeble

The story of St George is of a brave and noble Knight,

Who saves a Princess in distress by offering to fight

A dragon, armed with nothing but a horse, a shield and spear,

And then, with God upon his side, and therefore naught to fear

He overcomes the beast at last, returns the Maid unhurt

And for these deeds takes this reward: to preach, maybe convert

The town to Christianity, and having thus his say,

He girds himself in red crossed cloak and softly rides away

Well that’s what legend’s telling us about his little brawl.

That’s the story, here’s the truth, from one who saw it all.

George was just a little boy when he came to Honah-Lee.

I was lying in my cave when he first encountered me.

There aren’t so many visit, so I was quite surprised

To be presented with a child so ripe to terrorise.

I started with a little smoke (that often makes them quake)

But this lad kept on coming; not a tremor or a shake.

Next I tried a flash of flame to really make him think

He didn’t even falter once, nor did he even blink

But came and hugged my horny head and scratched behind my ear,

And told me he would be my friend for ever and a year

Well so it was.  We stayed good friends and always kept in touch.

When he was far away from me I missed him very much.

He’d come into my cave at nights; we’d chat until the dawn.

I’d tell him of the hundred years that passed since I was born

He’d tell me of the places he had been since last we met,

And talk of things he dreamed about that hadn’t happened yet.

One day he told about a king with wealth beyond compare,

Whose daughter was a beauteous maid with golden flowing hair.

He warmed his hands upon my breath and then before me laid

A cunning plan to part this king from riches and from maid.

We would arrive at dead of night when all were fast asleep,

And I would roar and be quite fierce and eat up all the sheep.

“OK so far”, I said, “but wait, there’s one thing’s got it beat.

“In spite of what they say you know us dragons don’t eat meat”

“We’ll hide the sheep” said George at last “and let them think it’s you

“Perception is reality.  To them it will be true.

“Then you declare a comely maid of royal blood’s your taste,

“And if you don’t get one right soon you’ll lay the land to waste.

“Along I come and tell the king that I’m the man to rid

“His kingdom of the nasty worm, and then I’ll make my bid

“For half his wealth, his daughter’s hand and named as his sole heir

And we will live in luxury without a single care.”

“Hold on,” says I “Am I the worm referred to in this plan?

“You know that as we’re firmest friends I’ll help you if I can,

“But do I have to be a worm?  It seems to denigrate.

“My pref’rence would be ‘dragon’ when you two negotiate

“The terms of my demise and then the dowry for your bride,

“And hopefully, for me, a little something on the side.”

The planning done and terms agreed we flew away anon,

Arriving in the dead of night when all the folk had gone.

We rounded up the sheep and put them in a lonely byre,

And then I landed on a hill and roared and breathed out fire,

Demanding princesses for lunch and threatening the worst

And trying to assure the King that all his land was cursed.

Our George meanwhile gained audience and followed up his plan:

Convincing of his Majesty that he’s the only man

That can defeat this dreadful worm (He really did mean me),

And happy to achieve this feat for one quite modest fee.

These terms set out in simple words, he waited for assent,

But got instead a swift repost and major ego dent.

The King it seemed was not so green as he had seemed to be

And called the bluff of our brave George, and by extension me.

He staked his pretty maiden girl upon a far off hill,

And sent a challenge back to me to do just what I will.

Well I have no more appetite for maidens than for sheep,

So I slunk off a mile or so to sooth myself in sleep.

When I woke up I found that George was standing by my side,

And with him was the Princess that he wanted as his bride.

He said he needed help again to make his dream come true,

And while I listened carefully he told me what we’d do.

He tied a rope around my neck and led me into town,

I walked as if I was subdued, my head was hanging down.

The Princess held his hand so tight and looked at him with eyes

That brimmed with adoration for the man who’d cut her ties.

The three of us took up our place in front of City Hall,

The crowds were gathered in the square and George addressed them all

“You people see what I have done that your fine King denied.

“I have subdued this fierce beast and maybe could have died,

“Your beauteous Princess I have saved from dragon’s tooth and claws,

“The Lord thy God was on my side and He alone ensures

“That you will live in peace and love and never want a thing,

“He only gives He does not take unlike your greedy King.

“And as a sign of His good faith to show His love is deep

“He has performed a miracle and has returned your sheep”.

At this the crowd all bowed down low and praised our God on high,

And even I (who knew the truth), a tear came in my eye.

We flew away that afternoon.  The sky was blue and clear,

We made good time with chasing wind.  Of course we had no fear

Volcano dust would bring us down or interrupt our flight.

We just flew back and soared away at dragon cruising height.

When Honah-Lee came into view I felt a twinge of joy,

Adventuring is very well if you’re a headstrong boy

With confidence and fighting talk and actions of the brave,

But dragons like their comforts too: a warm and cosy cave.

I never went with George again. He still roamed far and wide

Righting wrongs and telling folk to keep God on their side.

I heard he’d died in foreign lands when fighting in some wars

That some smart politician was convinced was in God’s cause.

That was many years ago but still I can recall

How one man and a dragon tried their best to fool them all.

It’s true that even though the plan was daring and was bold

We didn’t come back laden down with rubies and with gold

And nor did George win fair maid’s hand (she didn’t want to leave)

But I know it was all worthwhile for what we did achieve:

My George was made a saint and came a champion of the poor,

And I have made a fortune from this well-paid lecture tour.

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