Music Monday: “Puff the Magic Dragon” – Peter, Paul and Mary

Posted By on November 28, 2022


In keeping with the 1960’s Music Monday from a couple week’s ago, the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary flickered by in some way this past week when someone mentioned the old rumors speculating that “it contained veiled references to smoking marijuana.” But the authors, including the original poem by Leonard Lipton and Yarrow have repeatedly rejected and denied the claims.

The word "paper" in the name of Puff’s human friend Jackie Paper was said to be a reference to rolling papers, the words "by the sea" were interpreted as "by the C" (as in cannabis), the word "mist" stood for "smoke", the land of "Honahlee" stood for hashish, and "dragon" was interpreted as "draggin’" (i.e., inhaling smoke). Similarly, the name "Puff" was alleged to be a reference to taking a "puff" on a joint.


Although these references do seem credible for someone growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I much prefer the interpretation that children grow up and out of the imaginary friends and dragon phase and dragons who live forever move on to the next little girl and boy childhood imagination. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable song even to this day (1965 live performance below and a Decades TV  Peter, Paul and Mary story here).

Puff the Magic Dragon (lyrics)



Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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