September 01, 2004

Well I just received an email today from an unknown address with the lyrics to Puff the Magic Dragon, including the verses. I reprint them here for your benefit.

Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.
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 Honalee.
Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.

Together they would travel on 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


A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giants's 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

So we see that I spelt Honalee pretty well considering the vagaries of English spelling, also this song is really kind of a cliched story about a kid who leaves the imaginary friends of his childhood behind him. Pathetic really, I think whoever came up with this concept was not very creative. (I still don't know whether the song or the movie came first and I'm not nearly interested enough to do an internet search).

I just find it interesting that I got the lyrics emailed to me. Also there was a nice cartoon dragon, possibly Puff, in the email. I would post it but I still haven't gotten around to figuring out how to get pictures on here.

Also what does an invisible dragon need with string and sealing-wax? To whom is he writing? I like the bit about pirates though. If I were a pirate I would pay proper respect to any dragon I met too.

Posted by Tim at September 1, 2004 04:15 AM

I was always given the impression the song is about drugs. The references to "paper" and "puff" are the only things I can relate to drug use, though. I'm not sure where people have gotten that impression from. I guess it could be in reference to hallucinations that Jackie had while on drugs.

Posted by: Allison Bennink at September 1, 2004 07:29 PM

You make me feel very old. This is an old Peter Paul and Mary song of the 1960's and it most certainly is about drugs.

I guess in the recycling of the lyrics, it's just a cute song.

Posted by: Billie at September 6, 2004 12:35 AM

"Puff the Magic Dragon", about DRUGS!? Peter, Paul, and Mary singing about DRUGS!? How can this BE!? We sang about Puff around CHURCH campfires! I think I will hold on to my allutions!

Posted by: Mommy at September 7, 2004 05:41 AM

Wait a minute here....
It occurs to me that Peter, Paul and Mary, also sang the song with the question, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair?" Which make one wonder, was the sea, in Puff, really Lake Ontario?; and, if so, is Scarborough where they got their drugs? Were they really asking for someone to bring them a joint?
While we're on the subject, who was Tom Duley anyway???????? And was "If I Had A Hammer" about legalizing drugs?

Posted by: Mommy at September 7, 2004 05:51 AM

Oh Mom, you've got it all wrong. Scarborough Fair was sung by Simon & Garfunkel. I think.

I love you anyway, though.

Posted by: Tim at September 7, 2004 12:43 PM

I think Simmon and Garfunkel could have been asking Peter, Paul, and Mary to bring them drugs. Maybe the trio was going to Scarborough for a concert. If "Puff" is about drugs, anything could be true! I see now that the folk music of the 60's was all a front for the drug cartel! Which at that time was called something else, which to mention might offend someone's ethnicity.

Posted by: Mommy at September 8, 2004 04:46 AM

Does anybody know why? I can’t believe that this is really true! But often the things are not as they seem to be in this coloured world…

Posted by: Nice Joan at January 27, 2005 05:33 AM

Personal Interpretation
Puff The Magic Dragon

When I was younger and I listened to this ballad, I thought of it simply as a little boy growing up and changing, and leaving his dragon friend behind. I've been told that when Peter, Paul and Mary were interviewed back in the sixties, they said this song had no hidden meaning. Still many argue that there are many examples that hint that this song is related to drugs.
I now think that Puff is marijuana and that Jackie Paper is a pusher. The fact that Jackie loved Puff is stressed immensely.
The drugs put Jackie into another perception, words like "Honah Lee" make Jackie's life sound fun, magical, exotic, dangerous, exciting, and full of luxury and nice things.
Jackie is in his own world, he thinks that he's better than everyone else and feels he should be treated as the best. "Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came, Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name."
The poem mentions that "Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys." This means that as Jackie grows up, he moves on from the marijuana, to harsher and more potent drugs.
The song also mentions "cherry lane", cherry is commonly known as meaning naive, new and innocent. That could mean that the "harmless fun" Jackie and Puff used to share, isn't there anymore.
The marijuana will always be there even when no one's there to use the drug. "A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys." Little boys, doesn't necessarily mean children, but more so the innocence that children have.
In the end, Jackie over doses on the drug. "His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain." Without Jackie there to use him. Puff slowly withers away.
The speaker in this poem is someone who is narrating the story. The tone is serious and tragic. I think the theme is that things never stay the same. People move on and change, the decisions they make can affect others around them. In this case, Puff is affected.
I like this song for many reasons, mostly because it reminds me of my childhood. Puff The Magic Dragon tells the story of a young man's life, and how it tragically ended by experimentation.

Posted by: Gotcha at September 30, 2005 10:43 AM

Nice effort. Pity your interpretation is totally WRONG though.

Puff The Magic Dragon is NOT a song about drugs. That is a tired old urban myth.

Puff The Magic Dragon is a song about the loss of childhood innocence.

So all those people who remember it fondly for nice reasons - your memories are safe.

Please read here for proof:


Posted by: Rob at October 17, 2005 09:39 PM
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