From the olden days of princesses and fire-breathing dragons,
to the silent era's villains and helpless maidens tied to railroad tracks—
the men who rescued damsels in distress
served the code of chivalry with honor;
honor was its own reward, in olden days.
Dragons now are something of a scarcity it seems,
and now more people fly than take the train;
these days danger comes in subtler forms than fire-breathing dragons.
Yet villains are still with us,
as are damsels in distress.
But chivalry, they say, is dead today.
Wars are fought, perhaps, for honor and for country;
the plight of damsels in distress still gives rise to dragon tales.
Men go off to war and die, perhaps, in honor of their country;
sometimes we're as foolish, as we are wise, at other times.
As if it were a dark and inverse pageant,
every year another maiden tears her dress and conjures up a villain,
or feigns distress and simply points a finger.
We read the story daily in the paper,
we hear it every hour on the hour;
we follow every line as if possessed.
The press is like a pusher in feeding our obsession,
the networks base the movies on what makes it in the press;
what started as a maiden crying wolf becomes a maiden’s cry for help.
We watch every movie, we follow every line.
And every year another damsel tears her skirts and feigns distress—
or burns her hair and calls it dragon-fire.
Each maiden in this dark and inverse pageant
has her own peculiar reasons,
but there's a grander and simpler explanation for everything they do.
Damsels feign distress, men go to war and die—
because, we ask them to.