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The Pied Piper Of Hamelin Analysis

Author: poem of Robert Browning Type: poem Views: 70

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A Child's Story

Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,

By famous Hanover city;

The river Weser, deep and wide,

Washes its wall on the southern side;

A pleasanter spot you never spied;

But, when begins my ditty,

Almost five hundred years ago,

To see the townsfolk suffer so

From vermin, was a pity.


They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,

And bit the babies in the cradles,

And ate the cheeses out of the vats,

And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles,

Split open the kegs of salted sprats,

Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,

And even spoiled the women's chats,

By drowning their speaking

With shrieking and squeaking

In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body

To the Town Hall came flocking:

"'Tis clear," cried they, "our Mayor's a noddy;

And as for our Corporation—shocking

To think we buy gowns lined with ermine

For dolts that can't or won't determine

What's best to rid us of our vermin!

You hope, because you're old and obese,

To find in the furry civic robe ease?

Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking

To find the remedy we're lacking,

Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!"

At this the Mayor and Corporation

Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sate in council,

At length the Mayor broke silence:

"For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell;

I wish I were a mile hence!

It's easy to bid one rack one's brain—

I'm sure my poor head aches again

I've scratched it so, and all in vain.

Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!"

Just as he said this, what should hap

At the chamber door but a gentle tap?

"Bless us," cried the Mayor, "what's that?"

(With the Corporation as he sat,

Looking little though wondrous fat;

Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister

Than a too-long-opened oyster,

Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous

For a plate of turtle green and glutinous)

"Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?

Anything like the sound of a rat

Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!"

"Come in!"—the Mayor cried, looking bigger:

And in did come the strangest figure!

His queer long coat from heel to head

Was half of yellow and half of red;

And he himself was tall and thin,

With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,

And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,

No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,

But lips where smiles went out and in—

There was no guessing his kith and kin!

And nobody could enough admire

The tall man and his quaint attire:

Quoth one: "It's as my great-grandsire,

Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,

Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!"

He advanced to the council-table:

And, "Please your honours," said he, "I'm able,

By means of a secret charm, to draw

All creatures living beneath the sun,

That creep or swim or fly or run,

After me so as you never saw!

And I chiefly use my charm

On creatures that do people harm,

The mole and toad and newt and viper;

And people call me the Pied Piper."

(And here they noticed round his neck

A scarf of red and yellow stripe,

To match with his coat of the selfsame cheque;

And at the scarf's end hung a pipe;

And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying

As if impatient to be playing

Upon this pipe, as low it dangled

Over his vesture so old-fangled.)

"Yet," said he, "poor piper as I am,

In Tartary I freed the Cham,

Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;

I eased in Asia the Nizam

Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats;

And, as for what your brain bewilders,

If I can rid your town of rats

Will you give me a thousand guilders?"

"One? fifty thousand!"—was the exclamation

Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

Into the street the Piper stepped,

Smiling first a little smile,

As if he knew what magic slept

In his quiet pipe the while;

Then, like a musical adept,

To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,

And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled

Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled;

And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,

You heard as if an army muttered;

And the muttering grew to a grumbling;

And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;

And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.

Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,

Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,

Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,

Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,

Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,

Families by tens and dozens,

Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—

Followed the Piper for their lives.

From street to street he piped advancing,

And step for step they followed dancing,

Until they came to the river Weser,

Wherein all plunged and perished!

- Save one who, stout a Julius Caesar,

Swam across and lived to carry

(As he, the manuscript he cherished)

To Rat-land home his commentary:

Which was, "At the first shrill notes of the pipe

I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,

And putting apples, wondrous ripe,

Into a cider-press's gripe:

And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,

And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,

And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,

And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;

And it seemed as if a voice

(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery

Is breathed) called out 'Oh, rats, rejoice!

The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!

So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,

Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!'

And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,

All ready staved, like a great sun shone

Glorious scarce and inch before me,

Just as methought it said 'Come, bore me!'

- I found the Weser rolling o'er me."

You should have heard the Hamelin people

Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.

"Go," cried the Mayor, "and get long poles!

Poke out the nests and block up the holes!

Consult with carpenters and builders,

And leave in our town not even a trace

Of the rats!"—when suddenly, up the face

Of the Piper perked in the market-place,

With a, "First, if you please, my thousand guilders!"

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;

So did the Corporation too.

For council dinners made rare havoc

With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;

And half the money would replenish

Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish.

To pay this sum to a wandering fellow

With a gypsy coat of red and yellow!

"Beside," quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,

"Our business was done at the river's brink;

We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,

And what's dead can't come to life, I think.

So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink

From the duty of giving you something for drink,

And a matter of money to put in your poke;

But, as for the guilders, what we spoke

Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.

Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.

A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!"

The Piper's face fell, and he cried

"No trifling! I can't wait, beside!

I've promised to visit by dinner-time

Bagdat, and accept the prime

Of the Head Cook's pottage, all he's rich in,

For having left, in the Calip's kitchen,

Of a nest of scorpions no survivor—

With him I proved no bargain-driver,

With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver!

And folks who put me in a passion

May find me pipe to another fashion."

"How?" cried the Mayor, "d'ye think I'll brook

Being worse treated than a Cook?

Insulted by a lazy ribald

With idle pipe and vesture piebald?

You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,

Blow your pipe there till you burst!"

Once more he stepped into the street;

And to his lips again

Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;

And ere he blew three notes (such sweet

Soft notes as yet musician's cunning

Never gave the enraptured air)

There was a rustling, that seemed like a bustling

Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,

Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,

Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,

And, like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering,

Out came the children running.

All the little boys and girls,

With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,

And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,

Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after

The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood

As if they were changed into blocks of wood,

Unable to move a step, or cry

To the children merrily skipping by—

And could only follow with the eye

That joyous crowd at the Piper's back.

But how the Mayor was on the rack,

And the wretched Council's bosoms beat,

As the Piper turned from the High Street

To where the Weser rolled its waters

Right in the way of their sons and daughters!

However he turned from South to West,

And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,

And after him the children pressed;

Great was the joy in every breast.

"He never can cross that mighty top!

He's forced to let the piping drop,

And we shall see our children stop!"

When, lo, as they reached the mountain's side,

A wondrous portal opened wide,

As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;

And the Piper advanced and the children followed,

And when all were in to the very last,

The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

Did I say, all? No! One was lame,

And could not dance the whole of the way;

And in after years, if you would blame

His sadness, he was used to say,—

"It's dull in our town since my playmates left!

I can't forget that I'm bereft

Of all the pleasant sights they see,

Which the Piper also promised me:

For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,

Joining the town and just at hand,

Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,

And flowers put forth a fairer hue,

And everything was strange and new;

The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,

And their dogs outran our fallow deer,

And honey-bees had lost their stings,

And horses were born with eagles' wings:

And just as I became assured

My lame foot would be speedily cured,

The music stopped and I stood still,

And found myself outside the Hill,

Left alone against my will,

To go now limping as before,

And never hear of that country more!"

Alas, alas for Hamelin!

There came into many a burgher's pate

A text which says, that Heaven's Gate

Opes to the Rich at as easy rate

As the needle's eye takes a camel in!

The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,

To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,

Wherever it was men's lot to find him,

Silver and gold to his heart's content,

If he'd only return the way he went,

And bring the children behind him.

But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour,

And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,

They made a decree that lawyers never

Should think their records dated duly

If, after the day of the month and year,

These words did not as well appear,

"And so long after what happened here

On the Twenty-second of July,

Thirteen hundred and seventy-six":

And the better in memory to fix

The place of the children's last retreat,

They called it, the Pied Piper's Street—

Where any one playing on pipe or tabor

Was sure for the future to lose his labour.

Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern

To shock with mirth a street so solemn;

But opposite the place of the cavern

They wrote the story on a column,

And on the great Church-Window painted

The same, to make the world acquainted

How their children were stolen away;

And there it stands to this very day.

And I must not omit to say

That in Transylvania there's a tribe

Of alien people that ascribe

The outlandish ways and dress

On which their neighbours lay such stress,

To their fathers and mothers having risen

Out of some subterraneous prison

Into which they were trepanned

Long time ago in a mighty band

Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,

But how or why, they don't understand.

So, Willy, let you and me be wipers

Of scores out with all men—especially pipers:

And, whether they pipe us free, from rats or from mice,

If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

This poem holds greater significance than just being a childrens poem - The ambiguous nature of the poem is testament to this.I believe the Pied Piper is symbolic of anyone who as ever suffered injustice from others. Thus this poem is aimed at promoting good within society and eradicating corruption, I also belive this injustice suffered by the Pied Piper can be relevant to today\'s society in which child labour is a huge issue.

| Posted on 2012-04-21 | by a guest

.: :.

This poem holds greater significance than just being a childrens poem - The ambiguous nature of the poem is testament to this.I believe the Pied Piper is symbolic of anyone who as ever suffered injustice in grand proportion. Thus this poem is aimed at promoting good within society and eradicating corruption.

| Posted on 2012-04-21 | by a guest

.: :.

A very good poem yes, but, clearly not better than the .50 cal. I love guns :D

| Posted on 2012-03-28 | by a guest

.: :.

that was better than Browning\'s poetry!

| Posted on 2012-03-28 | by a guest

.: :.

Once upon a time in a land far away,
A man was born in the USA,
His looks were fine and his bones grew strong,
I praise this man all day long,
He grew quick and married well,
His wife pretty but not as fine,
As this great god of mine,
He awoke one day with a grand master plan,
To be an actor - declared this man,
He came to us from heaven and graced our screens,
With great films which surpassed even my own dreams,
From american gangster to man on fire,
I love this man with ferocious desire.

| Posted on 2012-03-28 | by a guest

.: :.

I feel that Robert Browning\'s greatest work was his more wel known, Browning .50 cal, he created a very effective weapon... however this poem was probably just as effective. however, the piper in question could not be existing in the present while encased in a past tense pastry, (pied) and if so, was he flaking it?

| Posted on 2012-03-28 | by a guest

.: :.

GENESIS.chapter one. Page one.GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND EARTH.DAY AND NIGHT. THE SUN AND MOON. But his greatest creation was a man who goes by the name of WASHINGTON. DENZEL WASHINGTON.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

I just cannot accept the rudeness and disregard for the fine art that is poetry that you people have displayed within the past few posts. Have some respect for the great Robert Browning, I worship him once a night in the sanctuary I built for him and we hire servants to perform his poems through the medium of dance once every month. That is the kind of respect you people should be showing to this master of the poetic arts! I pray this has had some good influence on your undesirable comments.
P.s. for the record, I think D. Washington was great in Safe House

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

what happens when men and glen get bored in english LOL.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

personally i prefer denzil washington in american gangster than man on fire...however now i think that he should star in the remake of the pied piper..with russel crowe playing the mayor.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

silence peasant. i believe the use of a depressive tone in the pied piper is evident in the film man on fire and I also believe that the piper is a bodyguard of the children in context.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

silence peasant. i believe the use of a depressive tone in the pied piper is evident in the film man on fire and I also believe that the piper is a bodyguard of the children in context.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

As a huge fan of the great works of BRowning, whom i find to be one of the greatest poets. IN THE WORLD. i find the man on fire comment to be completely disgraceful...for two reasons.. one Brownings use of symbolism is completely different to that used in man on fire.. and two ..the pied piper is not a bodyguard suffering with strong bouts of depression.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

i also agree with the man on fire comment to be honest-I find the characters of the pied piper highly similiar and the sense of destruction and redemption is highly evident. I CONCUR

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

i believe the pied piper can be very similiar to the story of man on fire starring denzil washington..the pied piper(a rogue)captures the children but i deem that we also get a sense of redemption through the fact we know the mayor got what he deserved, very much like the father in MAN on fire.

| Posted on 2012-03-19 | by a guest

.: :.

the poem is realy ice wid all townsppl mocking him n al tbt vry dumb

| Posted on 2012-02-13 | by a guest

.: :.

An interesting question is whether Browning succeeds in presenting the Piper as a Hero in this poem. Following the rhythm of the poem and \'bouncing\' along with the rhyme scheme the reader is drawn to the Piper\'s perspective that the towns people \'got what was coming to \'em\' however what would the children\'s perspective of this be (the innocents)

| Posted on 2011-07-17 | by a guest

.: :.

The poem may not be anything to do with the children, but the children are instead a symbol of their wealth. The rat infestation could be an allegory of the corruption that may have been present at that time. People,in this case the pied piper would come to help, however help would have to come at a cost. the mayor is described as an \"idol sod\", which represents the mayor as slimy- soemone who refuses to do something about the rats infestation or reflects how he also refuses to solve the problems of corruption in society.
The clothes of the Pied piper seem archaic even for this period in which its set, indicating to the reader \"a trump of doom\", a supernatural idea that we don\'t know where he comes from.
The use of a child story is a effective way of drawing the reader\'s attention towards the actual problems within society.
The rhyme scheme at the beginning is quiet choatic and irregular, however towards the end it becomes alot easier to read as the rhyme scheme is more regular, symbolising a natural consequence. Hence, Robert browning ties up the loose ends.
This is just an interpretation of the text.

| Posted on 2011-05-21 | by a guest

.: :.

The pied piper can be interpreted as a paedophile in this instance.

| Posted on 2011-04-12 | by a guest

.: :.

It could be considered both a childrens story ( with the bouncy rythm and uncomplex vocab) as well as a more sinister look upon the human nature as the towns people are seen to break their word to the pied piper whilst portraying the rats as victims through personification. This poem holds many vantage points letting us explore the old tale from a new perspective.

| Posted on 2011-02-03 | by a guest

.: :.

It could be considered both a childrens story ( with the bouncy rythm and uncomplex vocab) as well as a more sinister look upon the human nature as the towns people are seen to break their word to the pied piper whilst portraying the rats as victims through personification. This poem holds many vantage points letting us explore the old tale from a new perspective.

| Posted on 2011-02-03 | by a guest

.: :.

He tells the townspeople that he can get rid of their rats, and asks the mayor to pay him. The townspeople agree to, and the piper steps into the street and blows his pipe, getting rid of the rats. He then asks for his money and the townspeople don\'t give it to him instead mocking him. This teaches both adults and children an important message because what happens after this is both memorable and unexpected. The pied piper is portrayed to be heroic and graceful, but he then plays his tune against the townspeople and makes the children follow his tune, at this moment we feel like we are travelling along with the piper due to the speed and flow of the poem at this point. I think that this is a key factor in the poem that shouldn’t be ignored when finding the meaning.

| Posted on 2011-01-16 | by a guest

.: :.

The Pied Piper I personally enjoy the tale. A tale told to children that (I\'ve never heard until 8th grade and didn\'t really *know* it till now while doing research for a series I was working on) is so haunting that I don\'t get why parents would tell this story to their kids. After all it\'s more of a lesson to the adults as well as a warning. The only thing that I don\'t like about Robert Browning\'s verson of The Pied Piper legend is the fact that the entire date is wrong. Other than that it\'s pretty good and I always enjoy rereading the story of the Pied Piper.

| Posted on 2011-01-06 | by a guest

.: :.

This poem seems to hold a fairytale like essence. The use of the child-like refrain
and" emphasizes the fast pace of the poem. Rhyming triplets "twinkled, sprinkled,wrinkled" create suspense. The listing of rats, showng a vast amount of vartiation is very visual, as it imagery used to illustrate the brutal rats, this is what makes the reader assume if this story would be suitable for children.

| Posted on 2010-05-26 | by a guest

.: :.

yes... some very intersesting points in tihs poem. I have always pondered that maybe the lame child has a poetic connection almost in the narrative, becuase, really they both escape don't they- and we and readr simply must consider why that one rat has been named a Julius Ceaser (who was the past emporor of Rome)- the status for a vermin is comical- but, of course- this is a children's poem after all. One last point- i have always considered Hamelin as a modern day Atlanta ( city beneath the waves). the ghost town qualitys when the village is empty shows why i think this.

| Posted on 2010-01-30 | by a guest

.: :.

I think this story is an illustration of the second of the ten commandments which teaches that idolatry, the creation of images of supernatual beings, brings about destruction, not only on the perpetrators but their children because it is a flagrant breaking of a covenant with the God who had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. The Roman catholic church, which loves its images, is paying a great price in the destruction of its reputaion because of the abuse of children. They might do well to consideer Browings very insightful poem.

| Posted on 2009-12-18 | by a guest

.: :.

This poem written by Browning is a narrative poem. His technique of writing is very clever, keeping it lively with ryhming and variation. Midline rhyme is used as well. Imagery is also a device used here when the author describes the departure of the rats. During the departure of the rats, allusion (a reference in one work of literature to a person in history) is used when one rat was as "stout as Julius Caesar" and made it across the River Weser.

| Posted on 2009-11-05 | by a guest

.: :.

The pied piper of hamelin is a cleverly crafted tale by browning based on a legend that has been traced though history in numerous literary texts. In this tale, browning bases the legend in a poem that makes use of rhyme and other poetry devices. Essentially, the poem is about the town of Hamelin infested with rats. The townspeople are clueless as to how to rid the rodents of their town. Subsequently, the pied piper appears. He tells the townspeople that he can get rid of their rats, and asks the to pay him. The townspeople agree to, and the piper steps into the street and blows his pipe, getting rid of the rats. He then asks for his money and the townspeople don't give it to him instead mocking him.

| Posted on 2009-05-22 | by a guest

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