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Poetry Dragons

April 9, 2013

As regular followers will know I have a soft spot for dragons. I recently came across this fantastic description of a dragon in Simon Armitage’s epic poem ‘The Death of King Arthur,’ (Faber and Faber Ltd, 2012).

And he dreamed of a dragon dreadful to behold
that came darting over the deep to drown his people,
arrowing directly from the regions of the west
and swooping with menace over the sea’s wide span.
His head and neck were hooded all over
with hazy azure, enamelled in bright hues.
His shoulders were shawled in shining silver
so the serpent was shielded by steely scales.
His wings and his womb were wondrously coloured
and in his marvellous mail he mounted the heavens.
His tail was tasselled with bladed tongues …

and so the description continues. Makes me wish I could draw or paint.
It also reminds me of Bob Beagrie’s soothsaying personification of a dragon in ‘The Seer Sung Husband’ (Smokestack Books, 2010). The following is an extract narrated by the soothsayer’s husband Tobias,

in unchecked seer song. She vomits isles
that rise from the ocean bed, a dragon’s tail
that cracks the sky, silver serpents that feed
on fire, slither up the chimney chute;
on the hearthstone a salamander squirms
like a man accused of heresy, …

Bob is holding a workshop on ‘Inscapes’ at NeST gallery in Barnard Castle on Sunday 14th April from 4-5p.m. followed by a performance of his work from 5-6p.m. For more details contact or telephone 01833 695172.

Both these excerpts echo my first encounter with sibilant serpents in Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ which I studied for Latin ‘A’ level. It is good to know that dragons continue to appear in poetry. You may recall that my own poetry dragon was inspired by a trip to Barcelona last Easter. To find out how an encounter with Gaudi’s architectural style transformed me see previous posts entitled ‘Gaudi’s Barcelona’ and ‘Inspired by Gaudi.’


From → Poetry

  1. JEANNIE BISHOP permalink

    Judith, it should be April not March have you been drinking any of your wine??!! x Jeannie


    • Hi Jeannie. Thanks for pointing out the error. Have amended the post to show Bob’s event is in April. Don’t know how March crept in. Still have all 11 bottles of champagne that people bought us for our silver wedding anniversary. Perhaps they’ll inspire a poem when I get round to opening them.

  2. Since you like dragons, I thought I might take the liberty of placing an excerpt from my book–it’s called Under the Dragon’s Claw:

    “There it was –the dragon in his dreams!

    At first he thought it was about to stretch out its large red wings and launch itself into the air like a giant missile hurled by a catapult of war. But then the dragon fell back to the earth uttering its desolate cry. Its eyes, huge and bulging, with thin red veins criss-crossing its irises, cast their furious gaze at the Forest nymphs that stood all around it. The dragon opened its maw to reveal jaws lined with teeth as large as daggers. It flicked out a snake-like tongue and hissed at the little men that moved all around it. Theo wandered why the dragon did not pounce on the Forest nymphs and crush them, or take flight to leave them behind.

    The he saw the thin silver strands that completely enveloped the dragon’s body and wings. The ends, making a net to ensnare the bellowing beast, were tied onto the surrounding trees so no matter how much the dragon pulled at the ropes, the trees, by their sheer numbers, held it down firmly. With each frustrated motion, Theo could see that it was tangling itself further into the net. Soon it would be unable to lift its huge head.”

    Just thought I might add–just to set at rest any fears–that the dragon was released and formed a dragonstrider bond with Theo. He is my main character.

    Judith, I enjoyed reading some of your posts, and promise that I will return soon to comment on a few others as well–without taking liberties–sorry for the above, but you are given the option on wordpress not to allow a comment.

    Have a great day, and happy writing AND reading,


    Visit me at my site any time you like, oh, and leave a comment so we can ‘chat’ some more.

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