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 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, gray 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 river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished!
Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
"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 it seemed as if a voice
called out, 'Oh rats, rejoice!
Munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!'
As a bulky sugar-puncheon,
ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said 'Come bore me!'
-- I found the river rolling o'er me."