Shrieking and squeaking in fifty different sharps and flats
July 2, 2010 2:42 PM   Subscribe

The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is best known to us from Robert Browning's versified account, here presented in an animated version and here depicted in stained glass. This article from the Fortean Times discusses possible factual bases for the story [hattip: BoingBoing] and this page collects similar accounts from other places.
posted by Joe in Australia (11 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I can't help enjoying the opening sequence of the Disney version of this as the rats run amuck.

Not to mention the lyrics:

In the town of Hamelin many years ago
The citizens were crying out a tearful tale of woe
Rats, rats, rats
They chased the dogs and killed the cats
Rats, rats, rats
They build their nests in our Sunday hats
The citizens of Hamelin were frantic with despair
They gnashed their teeth and stamped their feet and shouted to the mayor:
Rats, rats, rats

Cool post.
posted by marxchivist at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2010

Holy unexpected Megadeth reference, Batman.
posted by cucumber at 2:59 PM on July 2, 2010

Wow! I saw that animated version when I was a child, and never saw it since. Thanks for finding that.
posted by Kit W at 3:04 PM on July 2, 2010

I don't know where I picked it up but I've long thought of the Pied Piper as something that came out of the horror that was the Childrens Crusade, which the linked wikipedia page touches on. And then there's the video for Sigur Ros's Glossoli which seems to bring the two together to strangely magical effect.
posted by philip-random at 3:09 PM on July 2, 2010

Great post, Joe. I saw the FT article on BB but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. Thanks for all these links.
posted by homunculus at 3:21 PM on July 2, 2010

Nice post. We recited the Browning poem in primary school. Fun. There is an interesting reference in a recent excellent play The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh. The theme is a children's story writer living in a police state. He updates the Pied Piper by having the child-luring character cut the toes off a boy who helps him and gives him food. Seemingly a horrible thing to do, it ends up saving the boy. He is too lame to keep up with the others and so survives the mass exodus of children who later follow the piper. Fascinating to speculate on the commingling of actual history and mythology that gave rise to this enduring story.
posted by binturong at 3:37 PM on July 2, 2010

The FT article was fascinating and creepy. The bit about "uncontrollable dancing" reminded me a lot of Kuru.
posted by ryaninoakland at 7:15 PM on July 2, 2010

China Mieville wrote a modern version of the tale: King Rat.
posted by spasm at 8:58 PM on July 2, 2010

I wrote a short story once playing around with the idea that the piper's flute was some sort of Galton whistle. After all, there genuinely are some sounds only children can hear.

And of course no discussion of Pied Piper adaptations would be complete without mentioning this one.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:58 AM on July 3, 2010

Nice post -- thanks!

In San Francisco's famous Palace Hotel, there is a striking mural of the Piper leading the children out of Hamelin by American artist Maxfield Parrish. (Link is to a print -- I couldn't find a good photo of the original mural.)

The mural hangs in the appropriately-named Pied Piper bar, adjacent to the hotel's Maxfield's restaurant. It was commissioned for the grand reopening of the hotel in 1909 after it was gutted by the 1906 earthquake and fire.
posted by trip and a half at 7:54 AM on July 3, 2010


I was going to say... the Pied Piper Bar is a personal favorite of mine. The drinks are a little bit more expensive, but are generous and perfectly made... You can drink and really take the time to appreciate art at the same time. What's not to like?! (Their Garden Court Brunch and Tea are pretty amazing too, really.)
posted by markkraft at 11:21 AM on July 3, 2010

« Older   |   Adaptation to High Altitude in Tibet Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments