PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON
    “Puff, the Magic Dragon” is a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow and
    made popular by the group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1963 recording. The song is so
    well-known that it has entered American and British pop culture. The lyrics for “Puff, the
    Magic Dragon” were based on a 1959 poem by Leonard Lipton, a nineteen-year-old
    Cornell student. Lipton was inspired by an Ogden Nash poem titled “Custard the
    Dragon,” about a “Really-O, Truly-O, little pet dragon.” Lipton passed his poem on to
    friend and fellow Cornell student Peter Yarrow, who created music and more lyrics to
    make the poem into the song. The song is believed by many to refer to smoking
    marijuana, due to references to paper, dragon (“draggin'”), puff (smoke), traveling “along
    the cherry lane” (the burning ember of a cigarette or joint is called a cherry, and moves up
    the cigarette’s length as it burns), and Hanalei (Honahlee) is a town in Hawaii known for
    marijuana use. This theory led to the song becoming a hippie anthem. The authors of the
    song have repeatedly and vehemently denied any intentional drug reference. Peter Yarrow
    himself insists that “Puff” is about the hardships of growing older, not drugs. He has also
    said of the song that it “never had any meaning other than the obvious one”.
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
    Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
    And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
    Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
    Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff’s gigantic tail,
    Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came,
    Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name. Oh!
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
    A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
    Painted wings and giants’ rings make way for other toys.
    One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
    And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
    His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
    Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
     Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave,
    So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
    Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
    And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.