And the children followed

I’ve been thinking about children’s poems, and poetry learned in childhood, and how it’s not the words which are remembered but those images we had then when we were young.

I used to know several of the verses of ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, not all of it for it is a very long poem, However I could recite it up to the arrival of the Pied Piper. I used to write lots of poems when I was young, and the rhythms of poems such as this influenced me in the way I wrote.

The beginning of the poem, describing the plague of rats is very vivid, but I was always quite upset by a verse near the end, the children disappearing into the mountainside was quite disturbing when I was little. Maybe my interest in missing people which has cropped up in some of my stories, was triggered by this!

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 water’s
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-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.

My e-book ‘Raddy and Syl’, the third in my Radwinter series, is about a missing person:

... there was the strangest man...

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