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ClassicsOnline Home » Collection: The Pied Piper of Hamelin and other favourite poems
Here are sixty of the finest and most entertaining poems for younger listeners. There are nonsense poems (‘The Jumblies’) classic animal poems (‘The Snail’) stories of adventure (‘The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens’) and Robert Browning’s classic tale of adults getting their come-uppance—The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Modern poetry also makes its contribution with wordplay (‘Zoe’s Ear-rings’) and images of nature (‘Weathers’). Though principally aimed at eight to thirteen-year-olds, this is a collection to delight listeners young and old alike.
Selected by Jan Fielden and John Mole
THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN
AND OTHER FAVORITE POEMS
The American poet Robert Frost believed that ‘a poem begins
in delight and ends in wisdom.’ It is in this spirit that this collection has
been made, chosen and read for younger listeners.
The first surprise is the sheer range of the poetry. There
are rhymes, which seem barely to have emerged from the nursery, such as A.A.
Milne’s The King’s Breakfast and Hilaire Belloc’s Henry King; yet there are
also poems with a structure and content that suggest a more comfortable home in
adult anthologies. Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, for example, with its magical
landscape and solemn rhythms seldom fails to capture the imagination of young
listeners. A good poem often communicates before it is understood.
This is the enduring appeal of poetry. Its use of highly
vivid images and its rhythmic resilience and variety allow the poet to bring
imagination, in its many and unexpected colors, fully to life.
We have included a range of poetry, which moves naturally
from home base to strange regions, from the comic and curious to the mysterious
and profound. All the poems are particularly suitable for reading aloud,
whether they are lyrical, dramatic or — as in several cases such as Kit
Wright’s Zoe’s Ear-rings — simply enjoying the fun of ingenious wordplay.
There are complete stories here — The Pied Piper of Hamelin,
The Lady of Shalott — and humor aplenty, whether it is the music hall mischief
of Dahn the Plughole or the more sinister touches of Binyon’s Hunger. Hilaire
Belloc’s Cautionary Tales: Matilda and Henry King have always been popular, and
their sardonic humor prevents them from seeming over-moralistic or dated.
Animals, naturally, figure prominently. We have included
some fine examples of animal poems containing vivid observation. The sheer
power of William Blake’s The Tyger evokes awe and wonder (which is why we have
decided to place it near the beginning of this selection), but other creatures
great and small keep appearing: a mighty horse, a dancing bear, an old donkey,
and there are even a guinea-pig and a snail.
No anthology of poetry of this kind would be complete
without some nonsense verse, so Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll are well
represented. There are also traditional songs such as The Big Rock Candy
Mountain, and Shakespeare makes his essential appearance with songs from his
We hope that this collection will be used in many situations
and on many occasions — perhaps in the car on a long journey (several of the
poems are about journeys, departures and arrivals), or in the classroom where
the teacher may want to concentrate on a particular poem. For this reason, the
readers have introduced each poem with its title so that it can be found
Inevitably there will be old favorites that are missing, but
maybe our young listeners will be introduced to new poems, a number of them by
contemporary poets, which will stay in their memories until they pass them on
to another generation.
Notes by Jan Fielden and John Mole
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Collection: The Pied Piper of Hamelin and other fa...