Robert Browning

Here you will find the Long Poem Pied Piper Of Hamelin, The of poet Robert Browning

Pied Piper Of Hamelin, The


(_Written for, and inscribed to, W. M. the Younger._)


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 cooks' 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 sat 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 self-same 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 vampyre-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 stept,
 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 a