George and the Dragon

In the Yorkshire dialect

“Nah, sithee,” said Granny, “Just set thee dahn ‘ere,
An’ I’ll tell thee a tale old and true,
Of ‘ow good Saint George slew a dragon one day
An’ all dressed in a metal suit too.

It were like this…” she said as she warmed to her tale
With her listeners huddled around,
“The beast ‘ad moved in and set up ‘is abode
In a cave on the best ‘unting ground.

The king weren’t too pleased, it ‘ad etten his ‘oss
And the best of the royal deer too.
‘To be fair,’ said the mage, his opinion asked,
‘What else would you expect it to do?’

‘I’ve heard they like maidens,’ his Majesty said,
‘Give it one, then we’ll be in the clear.’
‘A maiden, my liege?’ said the mage in surprise,
‘Tha’ll be lucky to find one round ‘ere!’

The King scratched ‘is head, there was something in that
‘Cause for maidens… ‘e’d known a fair few,
‘We’ll send out a search party over the land…
It’ll give the lads something to do.’

The very next morning the lads all set off
All caparisoned, armoured and gay,
Trouble was, they were ‘unting for pretty young maids
And wherever they found one, they’d stay.

Now the dragon had ‘etten the rest of the deer
And had now set to work on the cows,
His Majesty went to his daughter and said,
‘Hast thou kept all thy maidenly vows?’

‘But of course, Dad!’ she cried, ‘I’ve had chance for nowt else
When I’m shut in this castle all day!’
‘Just as well,’ said the King, ‘ ‘Cause we’re in a reyt mess.
Get your coat and we’ll be on our way.’

The princess was pretty with long golden hair,
The king thought he was onto a winner;
‘Now just you ‘ang on,’ she said raising her chin,
‘I can tell thee, I’m no dragon’s dinner!’

Now t’lass were fed up being shut up inside
And was ‘atching a plot of ‘er own.
‘I’ve got some conditions before we set off…
Get a pen, write it down… make it known’

Her Dad ‘ad to do as his daughter prescribed
Though her orders were not what he’d like…
‘Full half of my realm to your rescuer, lass?’
‘Write it down, Dad, or just take a hike.’

He did as she said, then she patted his hand,
‘Look, the rest of the plan’s none so bad…
I’ll marry him too, then you lose bugger all;
He can be the heir you never ‘ad.’

She had a good point and the orders were read
Through the length and the breadth of the city.
But no-one stepped up, ‘cause the dragon was big,
Even if the lass was rich and pretty.

There was only young George, at the tavern one night;
It were after bevy or seven,
His mates egged ‘im on and he drunkenly said,
‘Well, it sounds like a deal made in heaven.’

His pal were a blacksmith and all through the night
With the hammer and metal they clattered,
And made him a suit; though it rattled a bit,
That protected the assets that mattered.

He went to the king and his offer was met
With a fair bit of mocking and laughter;
‘Is there anyone else ‘ere who fancies the job?’
Asked the king… there was silence thereafter.

Now morning had come and poor George sobered up
And berated himself at ‘is folly.
‘Tha’s no gumption, lad,’ said his hungover head,
‘And in fact, tha’s an absolute wally.’*

Too late to back out with the town at his feet
And the princess out there with the dragon,
‘Now if tha survives,’ the lad thought to himself,
‘Georgie boy, tha must go on the wagon.’

The cave mouth looked dark as ‘e rattled in close
And ‘e knew that ‘is chances were slim,
But with the town watching ‘e had little choice
As ‘e crept where the shadows were dim.

The suit was a pain and it chafed all the time
In some places ‘e’d rather not mention,
George swore as he crept in the cavern’s dark door
That from now on ‘e’d stick to abstention.

The townsfolk looked on and the king wrung ‘is hands
As the lad disappeared in the gloom.
They wondered how long they’d be waiting to see
If the lad really ‘ad met his doom.

Strange noises were issuing out from the cave,
And the crowd winced and cringed as they listened,
Then out came the princess with George by her side
They were carrying something that glistened.

The folk never learned just what George found inside
And poor George was the only one knowing;
The princess was cooking a nice dragon stew
Over dragon-lit embers a-glowing.

‘I skinned it,’ she said, ‘as the scales are quite tough,’
And George looked at the princess in horror.
‘You might as well eat just to keep up your strength,’
She continued, ‘You’ll need it tomorrow.’

‘Just do as I tell you and make no mistake
I will make sure they treat you right well,
But cross me just once,’ she said waving her spear,
‘Georgie boy, and I’ll make your life hell.’

So they married next day amid feasting and joy
And the wine and the mead that flowed free,
But George just sat quiet and did as she bid,
Drinking naught but a nice cup of tea.

Not a drop touched his lips of the hard stuff that day,
And his manner seemed quiet and charming,
Yet under his breath he could be heard to pray
Which the courtiers found quite disarming.

‘The man is reformed, hallelujah,’ they said,
And they found his reserve to be quaint,
But the princess just smiled, knowing better than they
Just which dragon had made George a saint.”

“Don’t be daft, Granny, please,” a dissenting voice said,
“That is not how they tell it at all.”
“Oh no?” she replied, and they followed her gaze
To the dragonskin pinned on the wall.


*A ‘wally’ is a colloquialism for someone who is usually reliably intelligent, but who, for some reason or another, suffers from a complete, transient and anomalous lack of common sense 


A Villanelle

Without the hand of Man the sun will rise
And set in splendour with the dying day;
The soul of beauty does not need our eyes.

Man’s fate was never written in the skies
Though in its blue reflection, portents play
Without the hand of Man the sun will rise.

True beauty, by its nature, never dies,
Though Man is lost and found along the way
The soul of beauty does not need our eyes.

Man’s insignificance the race denies
And seeks illusive dominance for clay…
Without the hand of Man the sun will rise.

The essence of our being flees its ties
And from a higher vantage sees a way
The soul of beauty does not need our eyes.

When ego has no need of alibis
Then truth can live upon our lips and say,
Without the hand of Man the sun will rise
The soul of beauty does not need our eyes.


Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer, recipient of the David Burland International Poetry Prize and Director of The Silent Eye. She maintains a popular blog Daily Echo at www.scvincent.comand is the author of Laughter Lines: Life at the Tail End, a book of rhyming, comic verse, The Osiriadand a number of books written with Stuart France. 

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6 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    “George and the Dragon” is one of the most delightful rib-ticklers I’ve read in ages! Terrific job on that!

  2. Satyananda Sarangi

    Sue ma’am, greetings!

    Both the poems are rich in their own ways. The first one is wonderfully comical, I enjoyed it to the fullest. The second one was profound and executed with great skill, I must confess, for villanelle is quite tough a poetic form.

    Waiting to read more of your poems here and at your blog.


  3. Helen H. Gordon

    I really enjoyed “George and the Dragon” — especially told in the dialect that makes it sound very much like a real folk tale. And i loved the surprise ending.
    Helen G.

  4. David Hollywood

    Eh up Lass, That wor chuffin gran poem ‘n story tellin. Plus it was a very dedicated piece of concentration and construction, allied to a reflectively insightful second poem with Farsight. Thank you.

  5. Peter Hartley

    Brilliant!!! Scansion spot on, second poem very technically competent (not that the first isn’t) and between the two the gamut of emotions!


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