From The Pied Piper of Hamelin


Robert Browning is a well known English poet. He has written a large number of poems. All of his poems are in the form of drama. They narrate the story. The Pied Piper is a legendary tale of a magical man who rid the town of Hamelin of its rats. Hamelin is on the River Weser in Germany. In 1284, Hamelin was overrun with rats. A man promised the townspeople a solution. He played a musical pipe to draw the rats into the Weser. Browning wrote this poem for small children.

Hamelin is a small town. It’s near the Weser River. It’s a very beautiful town. Five hundred years ago, the city faced several problems because of rats. In the city, there were so many rats. They have disturbed all human life. They were living in the hats of men; they ate cheese and drank the soup. In the cradles, they bite infants. They were jumping over women, spoiling their conversation. People got angry with the town mayor and complained about the danger of rats. For a long time, the mayor and his attorney discussed the issue and they invited a man called Pied Piper. He had blue eyes. He was wearing a long coat that was half yellow, half red. He said he had a hidden charm and he had overcome several such menaces in many countries. 

The mayor made a promised with the Pied Piper that he would give him a thousand guilders if he kills all the rats. The Piper walked into the street, took out his instrument, and started playing music with it. He was followed by all kinds of rats, stopped near the river Weser, and every rat drowned and died in the river. Only one fat rat swam across the river and went into another island.  This rat is like Julius Caesar. He swam across the river and told all the other rats about Piper’s way and his songs. The rat warned the other rats to be careful about the Piper.

Everyone in the town became happy. The mayor ordered them to cover all the holes and every window and door to be nailed. The Piper came to the Mayor and demanded the money he had promised. The Mayor said he’d pay just fifty guilders. He said all the rats had gone down into the river, and they wouldn’t come out. The Piper was furious at the speech of the mayor. He took out his pipe again and began to play a nice tune. All the children in the town followed the Piper this time. The children danced and followed him gladly. The Piper didn’t take the kids to the river. He carried them over a mountain. The Mayor thought that he would stop his music at some point of time and they could take away the kids, but the Piper took away all the children into a cave.

All, except a lame boy, went to the mountain. The lame boy was unable to dance and follow the Piper like the others. The side of the mountain closed before the boy stepped into it. He was really sad that he was left alone in the town. He figured the other boys and girls would have a lot of fun in the unseen country. They’d all enjoy the super land of the Piper. He was left alone in the town with the elders. He wouldn’t have anybody for his business. The people in the town were sad because they missed their children.

The mayor of the city sends people to look for missing children. They’re searching in all directions but in vain. They do not recover any of the children. All they got is a text – a note that said it would be hard to find missing children like putting a camel in a needle’s eye. The residents of the city did not get their children back. Everything they could do was write the story of the missing children in the church window. The street was called Pied Piper’s Street for the street that saw the children for the last time. They also wrote the date of July 22, 1376, in memory of the missing ones.

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Message or Moral

This poem has a short storey in it. While it sounds funny, it sends readers a serious message in the final line –“if we have promised them aught, let us keep our promise”. One needs to be faithful to their promise. The mayor promised some money to the Piper, but he didn’t give him, so the piper took revenge. This is a crime and a punishment story.

Reading is Fun | Questions and Answers

1. How does the poet describe the eyes of the piper?
Answer: The poet describes the piper’s eyes as ‘sharp blue and green, each like a pin’, ‘green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled’. The colour of his eyes was also very bright.

2. Who comes out of the houses?
Answer: All kinds of rats come out the houses and followed the Piper,  stopped near the river Weser, and every rat drowned and died in the river except one fat rat.

3. Pick out the adjectives used to describe the rats in the poem.
Answer: Various adjectives have been used to describe the rats in the poem. These are adjectives are small, lean, brawny, brown, black, gray, tawny, small, fat etc.

4. What effect does the piper’s music cause?
Answer: The piper’s music has a hypnotising effect. The piper attracts all the dancing rats on with his magical music until they reached the river Weser, where all the rats plunged into the river and drowned.  In this way, the village gets rid of the rats.

5. Who plunges into the river Weser?
Answer: All the rats plunged into the river Weser and drowned.

6. Who is as stout as Julius Caesar?
Answer: The fat rat which swam across the river and went into another island is like Julius Caesar. He swam across the river and told all the other rats about Piper’s way and his songs.

7. Who narrates the commentary in the Rat land home?
Answer: The surviving rat returns to the Rat-land home and narrates his cautionary tale, explaining all the other rats about Piper’s way and his songs.

Language Work

The poet compares the eyes of the piper with the flame of a candle. He also compares the rat who does not drown into river Weser with Julius Caesar. Such a comparison is known as a simile. A simile is a comparison between two objects using the words – like, or as, e.g.;
1. The pudding is as sweet as honey.
2. He is as brave as a lion.
3. She is beautiful like a moon.
4. Rahim is strong like iron.

Now write down ten similes using “like” and “as”.
  1. The baby is as cute as a kitten

  2. He is as happy as a clam

  3. Your cloth is as light as a feather

  4. You are as blind as a bat

  5. She is bold as brass

  6. Her face is shiny as a new pin

  7. Your teeth are like stars.

  8. Her lips are like petals.

  9. They fight like cats and dogs.

  10. Watching the show was like watching grass grow

  11. He sleeps like a log.

Let’s Talk

Recall the things you enjoy doing. Tell them to your class.

Answer: I like doing many things. Here is my list:

1. Reading
2. Going the library and bookstores
3. Singing and listening to music
4. Dancing
5. Scrapbooking
6.  Hiking
7. Biking
8. Swimming
9. Surfing the web
10. Writing
11. Watching movies
12. Going for walks
13. Visiting museums and art galleries
14. Going out to lunch with friends
15. Playing the piano or keyboard

Let’s Write

Fill in the following information:
My name:
My D.O.B.:
My residence:
My school:
My class:
My hobby:
My aim in life:
Now, using the above facts/information, write a paragraph about yourself.

My name is Aadin Haider. I was born on 05 June 2006. I live in a small hamlet in district Budgam. The name of my village is Chayera. Presently, I study in class 8th in a local middle school. I like reading storybooks and web surfing. My favourite hobby is watching stories on Youtube. I do not comprise my health and social life. I spend some time with my family and friends. I also do exercise daily so that I can keep myself fit. I am also a nature lover. I often love to visit health resorts. I aim to become a journalist. My parents and teachers are also happy with the dream that I have set for myself.

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