First written in 1959 by filmmaker Leonard Lipton and set to music in 1963 by Peter, Paul, and Mary's Peter Yarrow, "Puff, the Magic Dragon" tells the story of a boy who outgrows his childhood fantasies. The song also inspired a series of animated TV specials
that recast the eponymous dragon as a sort of fantastical child psychologist coming to the aid of some deeply troubled children.
The song provides examples of:
- Banned in China: Banned in Singapore way back in 1963 due to concerns of references to Marijuana use. The ban has since been revoked.
- Belated Happy Ending: The book adaptation in 2007, with the authors' input, gives Puff another companion after Jackie Paper grows up (Jackie's child).
- Downer Ending: Jackie Paper grows up and forgets about Puff, leaving him alone.
- Growing Up Sucks: We're told about all the fun that Jackie Paper has with his friend Puff, but nothing about his life after leaving Puff behind. Thus the focus is on loss rather than growing as a person.
- Mood Whiplash: The final stanza, which would have established that Puff then goes on to play with some other child and (one assumes) repeats the cycle forever, has been Lost Forever. So the story about frolicking and kings and boats and sealing wax and stuff ends with Jackie Paper abandoning Puff, who slinks off to his cave to be sad for all perpetuity.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: As the final verse states, a dragon lives forever, but little boys, not so much.