The Tale of Custard the Dragon: SEBA Class 10 English (2nd) solutions

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Get here the summary, questions, answers/solutions, extras of the chapter/poem The Tale of Custard the Dragon of SEBA Class 10 English (Second Language). However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Summary: Ogden Nash’s poem The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a lighthearted ballad. It narrates the story of Custard, a cowardly dragon who is picked on and mocked by all the other residents of the house, including Belinda and her little black kitten, Ink. Custard is mocked by her tiny grey mouse, Blink, and her tiny yellow dog, Mustard. So, while the others told stories of their bravery and paraded their bravado, Custard was a coward who kept pleading for a cage to keep his skin safe. This went on for a while until one night a real pirate climbed up through the window. But then all the phoney bravado vanished in a puff of smoke, and it was Custard who stepped up to the plate and finished the pirate, gobbling him up in a flash.

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Thinking about the poem

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

Answer: There are five characters in this poem: a girl called Belinda, a black kitten named Ink, a grey mouse named Blink, a yellow dog named Mustard, and a dragon named Custard.

2. Why did Custard cry for a nice safe cage? Why is the dragon referred to as a “cowardly dragon”?

Answer: Custard cried out for a nice safe cage because he was too scared to stay outside. Custard was dubbed the “cowardly dragon” because, despite being the largest and fiercest-looking of them all, he was a scared dragon who desired a cage to keep him safe.

3. “Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmercifully…” Why?

Answer: Custard, despite his size and fierce appearance, was a cowardly dragon, and the other inmates of the house mocked him. Belinda also joined in the fun, and her method of teasing him was to tickle him incessantly and without mercy.

4. 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: The poet employs a variety of poetic devices throughout. Among them are:

i. Similes: mouth like a fireplace; as brave as a barrel full of bears; as brave as a tiger in a rage clashed his tails like irons in a dungeon; went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.
ii. Repetition: The word ‘little’ is used several times in the first stanza to emphasise how everything, from the house to Belinda to her pets, was small.
iii. Poetic liberty with spellings: For emphasis, real and true have been spelled as realio and trulio, respectively; window has been spelled as ‘winda’ because it rhymes with ‘Belinda.’
iv. Alliteration: ‘Custard’ has clashed’ his tail with a ‘clatter’ and a ‘clank’; the pirate ‘gaped’ at the dragon and gulped’ some ‘grog’.
v. Irony: Belinda calling the dragon, who they consider to be a coward, Percival – the name of a legendary knight of King Arthur.

5. Read stanza three again to know how the poet describes the appearance of the dragon.

Answer: Custard the dragon, according to the poet, has big sharp teeth and spikes on top and underneath his body. His mouth is compared to a fireplace by the poet, and his nose is compared to a chimney. Furthermore, he has dagger-like nails on his toes. Custard is thus described as having an outwardly ferocious appearance.

6. Can you find out the rhyme scheme of two or three stanzas of the poem?

Answer: Except for the thirteenth stanza, which has an aabbcc rhyme scheme, all of the stanzas have an aabb rhyme scheme.

7. 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: As brave as a tiger in a rage, clashed his tails like irons in a dungeon, went for the pirate like a robin at a worm, and so on.

8. 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 poem The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a lighthearted one. It’s almost a parody. Belinda’s pet names are all rhyming and humorous. A barrel full of bears has been compared to Belinda. The kitten and mouse, both small, could chase lions down the stairs. The little yellow dog was as brave as a tiger, whereas the dragon was a coward, and they all teased him. However, when the pirate arrived at their small house, they were all terrified and fled. Ironically, the ‘cowardly’ dragon jumped to their aid, snorting like an engine. It clashed its tail and charged at the pirate like a robin charging at a worm, devouring him. Even as everyone was pleased to see the dragon’s bravery, they returned to boasting that they could have been twice or three times braver than the dragon. Finally, at the end of the poem, the situation reverted to the other pets being courageous and the dragon being the coward.

9. This poem, in ballad form, tells a story. Have you come across any such modern song or lyric that tells a story? If you know one, tell the class. Collect such songs as a project.

Answer: Do it yourself.

Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions of The Tale of Custard the Dragon

1. What is a ballad? 

Answer: A ballad is a story-based song or poem.

2. Where did Belinda live and with whom? 

Answer: Belinda resided in a small white house. Her friends included a little kitten named Ink and a little mouse named Blink, both of whom were brave enough to chase lions down the stairs. She also had a brave little dog named Mustard and a cowardly dragon named Custard, who desired a cage to keep his hide safe.

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9. Why did the dragon, Custard, cry out for a nice, safe cage?

Answer: Custard, in fact, was quite brave, but he insisted on a nice, secure cage. It gave the impression that he was a coward. He could be pleading for a nice, safe cage so that he doesn’t hurt anyone when he’s angry, or he could be demonstrating that a small safety cage can prevent a disaster. Others assumed he cried for a cage because he was a coward.

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