A Decent Meal

A Decent Meal

This week’s poem is by Roald Dahl and tells the story of “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf” in a new way.

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.

Roald Dahl (1916—1990)

Poem 261. Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, “May I come in?”

Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
“He’s going to eat me up!” she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.

But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, “That’s not enough!
I haven’t yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!”
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
“I’ve got to have a second helping!”
Then added with a frightful leer,
“I’m therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood.”

He quickly put on Grandma’s clothes,
(Of course he hadn’t eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma’s chair.

In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,
“What great big ears you have, Grandma.”
“All the better to hear you with,” the Wolf replied.

“What great big eyes you have, Grandma.” said Little Red Riding Hood.
“All the better to see you with,” the Wolf replied.

He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I’m going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma
She’s going to taste like caviar.

Then Little Red Riding Hood said, “But Grandma,
what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.”
“That’s wrong!” cried Wolf. “Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I’m going to eat you anyway.”

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

­ A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, “Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.”

Fairly typically for Roald Dahl, this poem takes a traditional story and subverts it in an entertaining way. We see the traditional story of Little Red Riding Hood played out to a certain point, just as one would expect—Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma is duly eaten and the wolf dons her clothes and poses as the old lady. The imposture goes well (for the wolf) just up to the point where Red Riding Hood deviates from the script to admire grandma’s “lovely great big furry coat”. The wolf ignores this and announces his intention of eating the girl but his plan goes all to pieces when, in a significant twist to the plot, Red Riding turns out to be armed with a pistol which she duly uses, and we see the aftermath where she has made a change to her fashion and is now wearing a nice wolfskin coat.

I like this poem because it subverts the usual tropes of the story and chooses a more active role for Red Riding Hood as well as crediting her with the sense to recognise her danger, take charge of the situation and profit from her wisdom.


  • Watch justconor87’s performance on YouTube.