Buck and the Dragon

From deep rifts in the rugged Ogre, steepest of the mounts

that lined the gentle grassy Vale, a dragon slithered out.

Its diamond scales that moonlike shone shaped air and made it sing

as through the starry night it slipped on wide and leath'ry wings.

Between its jaws burned brilliant blue the flame that powered its heart.

Its cruel curved claws were long and black, and its teeth deadly darts.

It hungered not, for it had feasted on the mountain sheep

only three decades past; this time sheer cruelty broke its sleep.

Destroy the vale! it cried out in its sharp metallic voice!

I’ll topple houses, slay the men, and o’er their pyre rejoice!

And so it swooped down from the heights and soared over the vale.

The townsfolk woke in terror; each one panicked and turned pale.

It shot straight through their avenue and torched their wooden beams,

set fire to the dry thatched roofs, and strafed their shadowed streets.

But when at last it reached the edge and circled back for more,

it faltered, for a man it spied alone beside the shore.

This fellow, Buck, had wandered out to fill his drinking-pail,

when in the lake he saw the stars hung on its glassy veil.

He’d lingered there, despite the chill, to watch the pricks of light

that slaked somewhat his sorrows on this long and lonely night.

You fool, the dragon howled at him. Why sit you there, head down,

ignoring all the screams and cries as I destroy your town?

Buck turned to face the dragon as it landed on the shore.

Those screams and cries—I hear them, yet can’t help but think "What for?"

We have no knight to save us from your claws and teeth and such, so

you’re clearly going to eat us all no matter how we fuss.

How pitiful, the dragon mused, that men could think such thoughts,

give up their lives so easily, assume that all was lost.

Ignoble creatures—cowards all—by their own world browbeaten—

It’d do the rest a favor if this fellow wound up eaten!

And so it opened up its maw to snarf the poor man down.

A few quick bites, and it’d be back to trampling the town,

Your end is nigh! Why don’t you scream? Have you no last words, Buck?

Just make it quick, the man replied, ‘cause I don’t give a—

But he did.

Deep down inside, Buck still held on to life.

Though joy had long evaded him, it still was worth the strife

To breathe the clear cold mountain air as stars shone o’er the vale—

so as the teeth came snapping down, he seized his trusty pail,

And swinging high, and swinging proud, flung it with all his might—

Down the wurm’s throat the water flowed and doused its pilot-light!

The dragon, in its agony, released a hideous scream

and from its belly issued forth a blast of scalding steam…

but when it cleared, there stood Buck still, with pail clutched tight, beside

the bulk of a dead dragon. How another would have cried

And claimed himself a hero when the townsfolk found him there,

and lived his life on gratitude, at ease without a care

And gloated o’er the victory at every single chance—

but Buck knew better; all such things were done by happenstance.

And so before they found him and made merry all the night,

he slunk home to his hovel and turned out his humble light.