One of the most imaginative tales in Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days concerns a reluctant dragon. He has no interest in dragonly archetypes: forget fighting and hoarding treasure and burning things up with the breath of death.

This dragon prefers to hang out on a hillside taking in the view, thinking, dozing, and writing and discussing poetry, particularly sonnets. The boy visits him and they have charming conversations about cultural matters. When St George is sent to kill the dragon, the boy becomes the mediator, since the dragon point blank refuses to fight.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Maxfield Parrish, including a plate showing the boy and the gentle dragon with the caption: “What’s your mind always occupied about?” asked the Boy.  “That’s what I want to know.” The dragon listens to his question with a beatific smile.

‘Meanwhile the dragon, a happy Bohemian, lolled about on the turf, enjoyed the sunsets, told antediluvian anecdotes to the Boy, and polished his old verses while meditating on fresh ones.’

Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris Publishing, 1983), p. 179

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