Understanding the meaning behind the lyrics in the innocent song, Puff the Magic Dragon.
Puff the Magic Dragon is a fun and lovable song, but certainly sad towards the end. It was originally performed by the group Peter, Paul, & Mary. However, despite the fact it was written for both children and adults to enjoy, there has been much controversy over the meaning behind the lyrics.
Originally the lyrics to this wonderful song were written by a young man named Leonard Lipton. He was inspired after reading the poem by Ogden Nash titled: Tale of Custard the Dragon, to write a poem/lyrics of his own. Custard the Dragon was about a fierce looking dragon that was really quite cowardly until a pirate came and broke into his master’s house, it was then he courageously protected the house before lapsing back into his cowardice.
Lipton wrote the most of what is now Puff the Magic Dragon with the intent on it being innocent. It was supposed to a tale of boyhood and how “little boys” grow up and childhood fantasies fade away as they age.
Leonard left his poem in the hands of Peter Yarrow, who made some revisions and turned it into lyrics. The group Peter, Paul, & Mary made it a popular and well known song.
I’ve heard many different things about this song and how it is related to drugs. Some include the name “Puff”, being a puff of smoke from a joint. When in reality it is quite clear that the dragon is called Puff because dragons snort smoke through their noses/nostrils and it’s a “cute”, cliché little name for a dragon.
Others are that this make believe world of Honah Lee is the effects of getting high on drugs. But it is supposed to symbolize a child’s imagination and innocence; their over creative minds and the imaginative fantasy adventures they go on.
I’ve even found on Wikipedia that “dragon” is supposed to be “draggin’”, as if to take a “drag” off a joint. At least that is my interpretation of “draggin’.” Is there a reason to go in depth about its true meaning? A dragon is a dragon; the mythical creatures that often have wings and can breathe fire.
It is quite easy to turn the innocent meanings into drug related ones. But you can do that with a lot of songs and an imaginative mind.
This song, written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, is about how young boys eventually grow up and lose their true imagination. It’s about the innocence the youth has their creativity! Not how people like to get high and take trips to far away worlds under the influence of marijuana. This isn’t the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky (With Diamonds) we’re talking about, it’s Puff the Magic Dragon, a “bitter-sweet” story about a boy named Jackie Paper that loved the dragon Puff, until one day he stopped imagining, or visiting Puff and the land of Honah Lee.
“A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One gray 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 life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. oh!”
This song, as Peter Yarrow and the group have said flat out, is not about drugs or anything of the sort!