Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN.

145

VII.

VIII.

And his fingers, they noticed, were ever And putting apples, wondrous ripe, straying

Into a cider-press's gripe As if impatient to be playing

And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards, Upon this pipe, as low it dangled

And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards, Over his vesture so old-fangled.)

And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks, “Yet," said he, “poor piper as I am, And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks; In Tartary I freed the Cham,

And it seemed as if a voice Last June, from his huge swarm of gnats; (Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery I eased in Asia the Nizam

Is breathed) called out, О rats, rejoice! Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats; The world is grown to one vast drysaltery! And, as for what your brain bewilders, So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, If I can rid your town of rats,

Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon! Will you give me a thousand guilders ?” And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, “One? fifty thousand!”—was the exclamation All ready staved, like a great sun shone Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation. Glorious, scarce an inch before me,

Just as methought it said, Come, bore me!

-I found the Weser rolling o'er me.”
Into the street the Piper stept,

Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept

You should have heard the Hamelin people In his quiet pipe the while;

Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple; Then, like a musical adept,

“Go," cried the Mayor, " and get long poles ! To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled, Poke out the nests and block up the holes ! And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled, Consult with carpenters and builders, Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled; And leave in our town not even a trace And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, Of the rats!”—when suddenly, up the face You heard as if an army muttered ;

Of the Piper perked in the market-place, And the muttering grew to a grumbling; With a, “First, if you please, my thousand And the grumbling grew to a mighty rum

guilders !" bling; And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,

blue; Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats, So did the Corporation too. Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,

For council dinners made rare havock Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,

With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock; Cocking tails and pricking whiskers; And half the money would replenish Families by tens and dozens,

Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish. Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives— To pay this sum to a wandering fellow Followed the Piper for their lives.

With a gipsy coat of red and yellow! From street to street he piped advancing, “Beside," quoth the Mayor, with a knowing And step for step they followed dancing,

wink, Until they came to the river Weser

“Our business was done at the river's brink; Wherein all plunged and perished

We saw with our eyes the vermin sink, -Save one who, stout as Julius Cæsar, And what's dead can't come to life, I think. Swam across and lived to carry

So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink (As he the manuscript he cherished) From the duty of giving you something for To Rat-land home his commentary,

drink, Which was: “At the first shrill notes of the And a matter of money to put in your poke; pipe,

But, as for the guilders, what we spoke I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,

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

IX.

XIII.

XI.

Beside, our losses have made us thrifty ;
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!"

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood,
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,

Unable to move a step, or cry
The piper's face fell, and he cried,

To the children merrily skipping by“No trifling! I can't wait! beside, And could only follow with the eye I've promised to visit by dinner time

That joyous crowd at the Piper's back. Bagdat, and accept the prime

But how the Mayor was on the rack, Of the Head Cook's pottage, all he's rich in, And the wretched Council's bosoms beat, For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen, As the Piper turned from the High Street Of a nest of scorpion's no survivor To where the Weser rolled its waters With him I proved no bargain-driver; Right in the way of their sons and daughters! With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver !

However, he turned from South to West, And folks who put me in a passion

And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed, May find ine pipe to another fashion.” And after him the children pressed;

Great was the joy in every breast.

“He never can cross that mighty top! “How ?” cried the Mayor, “d'ye think I'11 He's forced to let the piping drop,

And we shall see our children stop!” brook

When, lo, as they reached the mountain's side, Being worse treated than a cook ?

A wondrous portal opened wide,
Insulted by a lazy ribald

As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed ;
With idle pipe and vesture piebald ?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,

And the Piper advanced and the children

followed; Blow your pipe there till you burst ! ”

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,
Once more he stept into the street;

And could not dance the whole of the way! And to his lips again

And in after years, if you would blame Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane; His sadness, he was used to say, —

And ere he blew three notes (such sweet “It's dull in our town since my playmates Soft notes as yet musician's cunning

left! Never gave the enraptured air)

I can't forget that I'm bereft There was a rustling that seemed like a bus- Of all the pleasant sights they see, tling

Which the Piper also promised me; Of merry crowds justling at pitching and For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, hustling;

Joining the town and just at hand, Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew, clattering,

And flowers put forth a fairer hue, Little hands clapping, and little tongues And every thing was strange and new; chattering;

The sparrows were brighter than peacocks And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley here, is scattering,

And their dogs outran our fallow deer, Out came the children running.

And honey-bees had lost their stings, All the little boys and girls,

And horses were born with eagles' wings; With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,

And just as I became assured
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, My lame foot would be speedily cured,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after The music stopped and I stood still,
The wonderful music with shouting and And found myself outside the Hill,
laughter.

Left alone against my will,

XII.

À VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS.

147

XV.

To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!”

XIV.

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.

ROBERT BROWNING.

A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS.

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 endeavor,
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 labor.
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 neighbors lay such stress To their fathers and mothers having risen Out of some subterranean 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.

sprang from

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all

through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with

care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be

there; The children were nestled all snug in their

beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their

heads; And Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my

cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's

napWhen out on the lawn there arose such a

clatter, I

my

bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen

snow, Gave a lustre of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should

appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein

deer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick, More rapid than eagles his coursers they

came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called

them by name; “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer

and Vixen! On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and

Blitzen

the sky,

CLEMENT C. MOORE

To the top of the porch, to the top of the He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a wall !

whistle, Now, dash away, dash away, dash away And away they all flew like the down of a all!"

thistle ; As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of fly,

sight, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good

night!” So, up to the house-top the coursers they

flew, With the sleigh full of toys-and St. Nicho

las too. And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON. As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

I LOVE to look on a scene like this, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a Of wild and careless play, bound.

And persuade myself that I am not old, He was dressed all in fur from his head to And my locks are not yet gray ; his foot,

For it stirs the blood in an old man's heart, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes And makes his pulses fly, and soot;

To catch the thrill of a happy voice,
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And the light of a pleasant eye.
And he looked like a pedler just opening his
pack.

I have walked the world for fourscore years, His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how And they say that I am oldmerry!

That my heart is ripe for the reaper Death, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a And my years are well-nigh told. cherry;

It is very true—it is very true-His droll little mouth was drawn up like a I am old, and I “bide my time;" bow,

But my heart will leap at a scene like this, And the beard on his chin was as white as And I half renew my prime.

the snow. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, Play on! play on! I am with you there, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a In the midst of your merry ring; wreath.

I can feel the thrill of the daring jump,
He had a broad face and a little round belly And the rush of the breathless swing.
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full I hide with you in the fragrant hay,
of jelly.

And I whoop the smothered call,
He was chubby and plump—a right jolly old And my feet slip up on the seedy floor,

And I care not for the fall.
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of
myself.

I am willing to die when my time shall come, A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, And I shall be glad to goSoon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. For the world, at best, is a weary place, He spoke not a word, but went straight to And my pulse is getting low; his work,

But the grave is dark, and the heart will fail And filled all the stockings; then turned with In treading its gloomy way; a jerk,

And it wiles my heart from its dreariness And laying his finger aside of his nose, To see the young so gay. And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

NATHANIEL PAEKEE WILLIS.

elf;

THE SCHOOLMISTRESS.

149

No superstition clog his dance of joy,
No vision empty, vain, his native bliss destroy.

THE SCHOOLMISTRESS.

Ah me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,

Near to this dome is found a patch so green, To think how modest worth neglected lies,

On which the tribe their gambols do display; While partial Fame doth with her blasts And at the door imprisoning-board is seen, adorn

Lest weakly wights of smaller size should Such deeds alone as pride and pomp disguise; stray, Deeds of ill sort, and mischievous emprise. Eager, verdie, to bask in sunny day! Lend me thy clarion, goddess ! let me try The noises intermixed, which thence resound, To sound the praise of merit, ere it dies,

Do Learning's little tenement betray; Such as I oft have chaunced to espy,

Where sits the dame, disguised in look proLost in the dreary shades of dull obscurity. found,

And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her

wheel around.
In every village marked with little spire,
Embowered in trees, and hardly known to
Fame,

Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow, There dwells, in lowly shed and mean attire,

Emblem right meet of decency does yield; A matron old, whom we Schoolmistress Her apron dyed in grain, as blue, I trowe,

As is the hare-bell that adorns the field; name, Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame; And in her hand for sceptre, she does wield They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,

Tway birchen sprays, with anxious fears en

twined, Awed by the power of this relentless dame;

With dark distrust, and sad repentance filled, And ofttimes, on vagaries idly bent, For unkempt hair, or task unconned, are

And stedfast hate, and sharp affliction joined, sorely shent.

And fury uncontrolled, and chastisement un

kind.

And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,

Few but have kenned, in semblance meet porWhich Learning near her little dome did

trayed, stow,

The childish faces of old Eol's train; Whilom a twig of small regard to see,

Libs, Notus, Auster; these in frowns arrayed, Though now so wide its waving branches flow, How then would fare or earth, or sky, or And work the simple vassals mickle woe;

main, For not a wind might curl the leaves that were the stern god to give his slaves the blew,

rein ? But their limbs shuddered, and their pulse and were not she rebellious breasts to quell, beat low;

And were not she her statutes to maintain, And as they looked, they found their horror The cot no more, I ween, were deemed the grew,

cell, And shaped it into rods, and tingled at the Where comely peace of mind and decent view

order dwell.

So have I seen (who has not, may conceive)
A lifeless phantom near a garden placed ;
So doth it wanton birds of peace bereave,
Of sport, of song, of pleasure, of repast;
They start, they stare, they wheel, they look

aghast;
Sad servitude! such comfortless annoy
May no bold Briton's riper age e'er taste !

A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown;
A russet kirtle fenced the nipping air;
'T was simple russet, but it was her own;
'T was her own country bred the flock so

fair;
'T was her own labor did the fleece prepare ;
And, sooth to say, her pupils, ranged around,
Through pious awe did term it passing rare;

« PoprzedniaDalej »