Puff the Magic Dragon and the Land of Honali? Honahli? Hanalei? Honahlee?

Who remembers the old Peter Paul and Mary song, Puff the Magic Dragon? I do! It was one of my favorite tunes when I was a little girl, not because of the story it tells because it is rather sad, but more so because it was easy to sing along with and conjured up images of friendliness in an otherwise large, scary creature. I mean, what child would not love to have a friendly dragon with whom to play?

If you need to refresh you memory of the song’s lyrics, you can listen to Peter Paul and Mary sing the song on this You Tube recording.

The song rose to the surface in my memory this past weekend when I was deciding what to post for my Silent Sunday photograph only blog.  When we visited the Hawaiian island Kauai in 2013, we drove through a town called Hanalei. A very quaint mission church sat on the main road. We had to stop to photograph this church at my insistence.  Immediately, upon our exit from this quaint town, the lyrics of Puff the Magic Dragon sprang to mind and I started to sing the tune (much to my family’s dismay because I am almost always off pitch). But, I enjoyed the memory none-the-less.  The memory of the song was connected to the name of this town, Hanalei. Or, at least, so I thought!

I was proved wrong on Sunday. While I looked up how to spell Hanalei, I  realized the spelling of the place in the song lyric was very different from that of the Hawaiian town. Hanalei is the town on the island of Kauai. Honahlee is the word featured as the mystical place Puff and Jackie Paper frolicked during the child’s young days. Now, I believe the pronunciation of the two words are slightly different, as well. Come to find out, Peter Paul and Mary were not referencing the town on Kauai at all. Legend has it that the Honahlee of the song was invented as a place word to rhythm with the word sea.  See for yourself with the lyrics, here, on the MetroLyrics website.

pixabay ocean-731326_1280

Regardless, the place featured in the song could very well be the town Hanalei on Kauai. It is by the sea, can by “misty”, has caves, lagoons, would be pirate ships, and ships with billowed sails. Of course, there are always young boys, as well.  You see the connection I made, do you not?  Hanalei Bay is definitely a place you can imagine a friendly, giant, green scaled Puff rising out of the incredibly blue water to meet up with his friend Jackie.  And that, I guess, is what it is all about – imagination! Imagination of the songwriters’, of little boy’s dreams, of invented playmates, and of towns so quaint you can almost see a friendly dragon rising out of the mist. No matter how Hanalei – Honahlee is spelled it will be forever be a place where a friendly dragon and a great song come to life – real or not.


9 thoughts

      1. LOL. Sometimes we have to do things even if our kids don’t like it or embarrassed about it. I did a few things my kids didn’t like, either.


    1. Actually, the place in the song was made up – I had thought the same – that it was the town on Kauai. Bu, I was wrong. It’s mentioned further down in the post. Anyway, It still has fond memories for many, including the two of us! Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s