Dreamers, Keep Dreaming

Puff the Magic Dragon
It's odd how a simple post can lead to such strong emotions. The other day I noticed this photo (right) on my mother's Facebook page along with the caption "Remember this?"

I immediately "liked it" and decided I should pull up the video on YouTube and have a listen. This song has always been a favorite of mine and one that epitomizes childhood. The story of a young boy, Jackie Paper, and his imaginary dragon, Puff, and their adventures in the enchanted land of Honalee is not only representative of childhood innocence, but of creativity in general. And, if Puff's sadness when Jackie grows up and stops visiting him doesn't tug at your heart strings, well, there is something seriously wrong with you. Just sayin'.

The song, whose lyrics were based on a poem by Lenny Lipton, was written by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary and, despite the popular belief that the song is about drug / marijuana use, a theory denied by Lipton and Yarrow, has to do with the loss of innocence when children grow up.  Somehow becoming an adult became synonymous with no longer believing in fantastical worlds and creatures, an end to our inner dreamer. 

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant's 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 lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave
So Puff, that mighty dragon, sadly slipped into his cave

Apparently I didn't get this memo when I hit adulthood and seem to suffer from living in a constant state of imagination and fantasy. I guess that would explain why I love series like Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings. I have a particular fascination with dragons, one I have shared with my sons (and former students) and, therefore, we have quite a collection of dragon books. Even to this day, I marvel at dragonflies for the sheer fact that their name contains the word "dragon." 

Original song by Peter, Paul, & Mary

So back to this Facebook post of my mom's and my decision to look up the video on YouTube. Now, before I explain what happened upon playing the song, let me acknowledge that I am an extremely sentimental person (and happen to be quite hormonal to boot!).  So as I sat in my office and listened to the song, I started to cry. Not just eyes watering with a tear or two escaping. No, this was a full-blown cry. I am not sure if the tears were brought on by the realization of my own aging process or the loss of innocence I am witnessing in my two sons - OR the simple fact that I am a nut!  But for whatever reason, this song has always evoked intense emotions in me. Probably because, unlike Jackie Paper, I have refused to give up my childhood imagination - MY Puff will not be slipping into his cave alone and defeated. The problem is I am busy trying to cheer up all the deserted dragons, and it's exhausting.

To those who say they do not like this song (like the woman who stated so on my mom's Facebook post) all I can say is, you just don't get it.  Imagination, I would believe, isn't high on your list of talents. You're probably one of those people who are always rational and hate sci-fi and fantasy. Your heads are never in the clouds. Or, maybe you are just offended by the mere possibility that this song has something to do with drug use. Seriously, people - lighten up!  It was the sixties after all.

Puff the Magic DragonWhen I had my own children, I bought them the book that was accompanied by the CD of the song. There were days I tortured them by playing it over and over again while showing them the beautiful illustrations in the book (pictured left).

Happily, in this storybook version, Jackie Paper's daughter, much to Puff's delight, eventually takes her father's place in Honalee as the dragon's new companion. An ending that, needless to say, melts my heart. So I ask you, what is wrong with fantasy? Why are the dreamers like myself shunned by those who easily make the transition to "rational adulthood," giving up their dragons without batting an eyelash?  Personally, I think the world needs more dreamers.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a pet dragon to feed and need to check my mailbox for my Hogwart's letter.


  1. I don't think I ever truly grew out of the imaginative fantasy worlds I created as a kid. I still read middle grade and YA books and I believe them. I can accept that there is a magic circus that travels around and it's the only hope for one young boy (reading Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasly right now). I cross my fingers and kind of hope that there are wizards out there and I'm just a clueless Muggle, although I wish I was a wizard. I can't wait to share this with my toddler. She already has a wild and crazy imagination.

    1. My younger son definitely inherited this "fantasy" gene from me and, sadly, even KIDS his age think that aspect of his personality is odd or "juvenile" because they have already lost that magic. BTW, if Hogwarts ever hires me as their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, I'll bring you on board as my secretary - muggle or not! (LOL)


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