Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PIED PIPER, by WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD



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THE PIED PIPER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The huge pied piper, in a giant dance
Last Line: And the millions perished in a jigging rigadoon.
Subject(s): Death; Military; Military Service, Voluntary; Patriotism; Pipers; Soldiers; War; Dead, The


The huge Pied Piper, in a giant dance,
Began his piping on the fields of France.
The huge Pied Piper, with a fife of steel,
Danced through the nations, toe and heel.
Four crazed years, under winds and the moon,
The Millions followed in a jigging rigadoon.

For his legs were hosed in stripèd bands,
And his sleeves were stripèd to the fingering hands,
And his cape was stripèd to his piping throat,
And the stripèd cap fluttered to step and note. ...
Stripes up and down, and left and right ...
Red, green, yellow, black, blue, white ...
Speckled between with star and crest—
But the red stripes O! they outnumbered the rest.
And when failed the lure of his garments pied,
He juggled new bunting from his chest inside.
So four crazed years, under winds and the moon,
The Millions followed in a jigging rigadoon.

With a fife of steel to puckered lips,
And two cheeks puffing for his finger-tips,
He shrilled each tune of the lure of war,
And danced each measure of his repertoire:
He piped and he jigged of fear and hate,
Of love of country and glory of state:
And he piped of God and he piped of man—
This giant Jester, this Charlatan.
And for those who loathed his piping shrill
He piped a tune more alluring still:
"Then hurry to my piping more than ever,
To end my piping, now or never!"
And four crazed years, under winds and the moon,
The Millions followed in a jigging rigadoon.

And the few still slack, as he flung pied cape,
And the few still slack, as he piped his jape,
O the few still slack, as each million reels
Jigging to the river, behind his heels,
They whipped or they hanged to bar or tree,
And passed with the Piper down the lea. ...

To a red, red river, all the host—
And the Piper walked, like a shadow or ghost. ...
And the Piper walked, like Christ on the sea
In the sunset-storm of Galilee. ...
And he danced on the waters to his latest tune,
And the Millions perished in a jigging rigadoon.





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