At last! Shakespeare's long-lost St George
Thursday 24 April 1997
Well, there is! Experts have recently uncovered the remains of a hitherto unknown Shakespeare play which is on the very subject of St George and the Dragon. It is called, as you might expect, The Two Georges of Smyrna.
Would you like to see an extract?
Well, too bad, because here it is.
The scene is a back street of Smyrna, some time between the invention of Christianity and the modern day. Enter George, a knight errant, with his attendant dragon.
George: We have journeyed many a mile together
Before we came to this fair town named Smyrna.
And now we seek a place to lay our weary heads,
Which is not quite so easy as it sounds,
For every door on which we knock for help
Has got a sign saying: "Dragons not welcome here".
Why do they like you not?
Dragon: I cannot tell.
We dragons are a harmless lot, God wot.
We puff and blow and make a lot of noise,
And cause a little fire from time to time.
Why, I myself once burnt a haystack down
While laughing at a joke. My gusty breath
Being full of sparks did catch a corner of the hay
And moments later there was nothing left.
But every dragon has a tale like this.
Thereafter are we careful with our breath
And never cause another fire again.
Not so with humankind, whose carelessness
Leaves every town ablaze from time to time.
George: Yes, yes, I know. We humans are to blame
For everything that happens in this world,
Yet somehow shift the blame to dragons.
This is the constant burden of your plaint.
Dragon: And it is true, as you have oft confessed!
George: You may be right, but that is not the point.
Dragon: What is the point, oh holy one-to-be,
Oh martyr on the make, oh future saint?
George: The point is seeking lodgings for the night,
And that would be a simple thing to find
Did I not have a dragon at my side!
Dragon: Oh, now I start to catch your general drift!
I cramp your style, is what you mean to say!
I, who have saved your life so often in the past,
Am now a little surplus to your wants!
Upon the road I am your trusty friend
But here in town a mere embarrassment!
George: Now, look, old dragon friend...
Dragon: No, say no more!
I'll take your hint and make myself right scarce.
I have have a cousin here in Smyrna, a dragon like me,
With whom I may perchance find room to stay.
I'll search him out and bother you no more.
Tomorrow you can buy a horse and then
You'll look just like a normal knight again.
George: Nay, fair dragon, take not offence at me!
We have endured so many dangers, me and thee,
That being bound together in a common plight,
We should not be parted by a trifling fight.
Dragon: Ye cannot soften me with all this rhyme.
Perhaps we'll meet again some other time.
The dragon tosses his head proudly and goes off without a second glance. George scratches his head ruefully.
George: Alas, I do repent me of my hasty tongue,
Which yet again has far outrun my thought.
But night draws on and I have still no bed,
And nowhere in Smyrna to lay my weary head.
Yet hold! Have I not a long-lost cousin
Whose name is also George, here in this town?
I think I have! Him will I search for now!
Enter a second dragon, who starts on seeing George and then hails him
2nd Dragon: Why, master, are you here again so
George: What mean you, fool? I've ne'er been
2nd Dragon: Oh, master, that's a sorry tale to tell...
Well, it's quite clear what's going to happen, isn't it? George and the dragon have both got identical cousins in Smyrna and there's going to be a lot of incredibly unfunny mistaken identity before everything is cleared up. So I think we'll quietly lose the manuscript again.
Life & Style blogs
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary
Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
PTSD photo series documents what the disorder is really like – as study reveals suicides of 22 US veterans every day
The distress of some Zayn Malik fans is real, and they need support, say experts
Eating quinoa and whole grains every day could help you live longer
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...