From the dawn of time there has always been the ubiquitous dragon myth. Breathing fire, striking terror into the hearts of men, or vanquished by the noble knight on his valiant steed. But what is the myth of the dragon? Are dragons friendly or to be feared? Are they protective or destructive?
According to Jonathon Evans, a leading dragon scholar and author of ‘Dragons: Myth and Legend’, there are a number of varying traditions.
In China, ‘the dragon appears as a protective force associated with the life-giving natural world, particularly water. By contrast, Western traditions emphasize the destructive implications of its power, and……dragons appear as cosmic enemies of heroic warriors and saintly defenders against evil.’
The Turkish dragon, in contrast, differs greatly from its European and more Eastern counterparts in that it secretes flames from its tale and does not fly. Turkish and Islamic sources describe dragons as being like giant snakes. It also believed that the blood of the Turkish dragon has medicinal properties. It can be used as a panacea as well as a lethal potion. The Turkish dragon seems to occupy a half way house, somewhere between the European and Asian traditions.
Whatever school of thought one adheres to, there is no doubt that dragons have inspired creativity in writers of fantasy literature, fairy tales, and poetry. From ‘Beowulf’ and his slaying of Grendel to ‘The Jabberwock’ with its dragon like features, and the treasure hoarding dragon of ‘ The Hobbit’.
Similarly, we have also been inspired by these tales and myths, but fortunately, or unfortunately, have yet to come face-to face with an over-sized, fire-breathing reptile. Which is why we love reading and performing this poem by Brian Moses.
We didn’t see dragons
in Dragons’ Wood
but we saw
where the dragons had been.
We saw tracks in soft mud
that could only have been scratched
by some sharp-clawed creature.
We saw scorched earth
where fiery dragon breath
had whitened everything to ash.
We saw trees burnt to charcoal.
We saw dragon dung
rolled into boulders.
And draped from a branch
we saw sloughed off skin,
scaly, still warm…
We didn’t see dragons
in Dragons’ Wood,
but this was the closest
we’d ever been