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Poetry 11: Satirical Poetry

St. George

Nancy Senior

My dragon always loved walks

He used to go to the wall
where the golden chain hung
and take it in his mouth
laying his head on my lap
sideways, so the fire wouldn’t burn my skirt

He looked so funny that way

with his wings dragging the floor
and his rear end high up
because he couldn’t bend his hind legs

With him on the leash, I could go anywhere

No band of robbers dared attack

This morning in the woods

we had stopped for a drink
where a spring gushes out of a cave

when suddenly, a man in amour

riding a white horse
leapt out of the bushes
crying “Have no fear I will save you”

And before I could say a word

he had stabbed my dragon in the throat
and leaping down from the horse
cut off his head
and held it up for me to see
the poor eyes still surprised
and mine filling with tears
He hadn’t even had time to put out his claws

And the man said

“Don’t cry, Maiden
You are safe now
But let me give some good advice Don’t ever walk alone in the woods
for the next time you meet a dragon
there might not be a knight around to save you”
“St. George” Questions:

1. What is the theme of the poem?

2. What literary techniques does the poet use?
3. Who or what is the satirist ridiculing in the poem?
4. In your opinion, is the ridicule justified? Is the issue important? Explain.
5. How would you describe the tone? Did you find it funny?
6. Why would the knight consider a maiden with a dragon in need of rescue?
7. What does this poem reveal about society in the Middle Ages? About contemporary
8. Imagine that you are the speaker of the poem. What would you say to the knight after
he killed your dragon?
9. Discuss the meaning and the appropriateness of the title.
10. Read the definition of allegory and the legend of St. George. How is the poem an
allegory? What behavior or beliefs does the satirist wish to change?

Allegory: a story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning,
typically a moral or political one - presented symbolically.

St. George: was a soldier in the Roman Empire and later a Christian Martyr. The legend
of St. George and the dragon begins with a dragon making his nest near a spring which
provided water to a city-state. Consequently, the citizens had to remove the dragon from
the spring by offering it a human sacrifice daily. The victim was chosen by drawing lots:
one day, the local princess was chosen. She is offered to the dragon however, at this
point St. George arrives and rescues her by slaying the dragon. The grateful citizens then
abandon their pagan beliefs and convert to Christianity because their hero, St. George is a

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