On this day in 1812 English poet Robert Browning was born.
He was brought up by strict but loving parents and well educated – by the age of twelve he was writing verses. His work was generally not well received until he came to public notice by marrying the poetess Elizabeth Barrett.
He found the idea for his most famous poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, in his father’s huge library. It tells of a mysterious piper who is hired to rid the town of a plague of rats but who, after being cheated of his payment for the task, lures away the town’s children in revenge.
Here is the start of it:
Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.
Today I will allow nothing to stop me from finding the good in my life and from putting it to best use.