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Dragon-flies

from Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales - NATURE SONGS





In some parts of the Isle of Wight, these insects are found of a
peculiarly large size, and their colours are extremely beautiful. There
is an old legend respecting them which is still current. It is supposed
by the country people that their sting or bite is venomous, as bad as
that of a snake or adder, and perhaps from this belief their provincial
name of snake-stanger or snake-stang is derived. It is said that these
insects can distinguish the good children from the bad when they go
fishing: if the latter go too near the water, they are almost sure to be
bitten; but when the good boys go, the dragon-flies point out the places
where the fish are, by settling on the banks, or flags, in the proper
direction. This curious myth is commemorated by the following song:

Snakestanger! snakestanger! vlee aal about the brooks;
Sting aal the bad bwoys that vor the vish looks,
But lat the good bwoys ketch aal the vish they can,
And car'm awaay whooam[43] to vry'em in a pan;
Bred and butter they shall yeat at zupper wi' their vish,
While aal the littul bad bwoys shall only lick the dish.

[Footnote 43: Carry them away home.]

This has of late years been introduced into the nursery, but in
different suit of clothes:

Dragon fly! dragon fly! fly about the brook;
Sting all the bad boys who for the fish look;
But let the good boys catch all that they can,
And then take them home to be fried in a pan;
With nice bread and butter they shall sup upon their fish,
While all the little naughty boys shall only lick the dish.





Next: The Snail

Previous: Domestic Poultry



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