I penned the following composition as the opening section of the introduction for my book Dragons: A Natural History (pictured above). First published in 1995, it went on to become the bestselling book of all time on dragons, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and is still in print today, over 15 years later.
Fire-belching damsel devourers mortally skewered upon a valiant knight’s lance, or ethereal serpentine deities wafting languorously through the skies in celestial tranquillity.
Vermiform monsters with coils of steel, or winged wonders with jewel-encrusted scales.
Bat-winged nightmares that terrorise and desecrate with volcanic gullets of flame, or polychromatic dream beasts soaring heavenward upon iridescent plumes of crystalline glory.
Personifications of malevolence or beneficence, paganism or purity, death and devastation, life and fertility, good or evil.
All of these varied, contradictory concepts are embodied and embedded within that single magical word!