Beccy's Reviews > The Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2008

There are a few versions of Browning's THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN available, so if you like the text you might want to pick and choose your edition based on the illustrations.

I think traditionally this text gets taught at secondary school, however, I can't see any reason why a year five or six class shouldn't be introduced to it.

The plot of the poem is of a stranger who comes to the town of Hamelin in Germany to rid the place of rats. He completes his mission by luring them out of town and into the river with his pipe music. However, when the time comes for the town council to pay him for his work, they will not, and so, as a truly macabre act of revenge, he lures the town's children away in the same way that he did with the rodents.

It's a dark poem, and yet strangely hypnotic. Based on a time when the town's children really were lost, purportedly to the plague or some other medical epidemic or perhaps to a landslide- there are various suggestions- Browning's interpretation may be a considered one of a number of secondary sources of art and literature depicting these events.

This poem is great to get discussion going, a literary detective case to piece together what actually might have happened when read in conjunction with other representations of the events in Hamelin. It also offers the children the chance to write in their verse, what happened in Hamelin, based on Browning's poem, or perhaps turn their hands to journalism and write a newspaper story based on the events depicted in the poem. As a writer, Browning can also be used on projects on the Victorians, with the added bonus (if it can be termed that) of having his tomb in Poets' Corner in Westmister Abbey and available to be visited.

Certainly not a light read, but definitely one to ge a lot out of.
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