Swarm Over Hamelin

from The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Dominika Lipniewska

Swarm Over Hamelin

Thank you, sir, thank you sir, thank you a thousandfold !
How we were plagued upon, how we were festered !
Rodentine pestilence, vicious and far-too-bold,
Raided, invaded – our stores all sequestered.
For we had already lost every vat we had,
Every scrap we had, every foison.
And we had already tried every cat we had,
Every trap we had, every poison.
Not just the teeth or the claws was our worrying,
Not just the tapeworms or ticks from the ditches –
No, not just the nibbling and soiling and scurrying –
But oh !, it’s the fleas !  It’s the fleas and the itches !
Nobody worked, and nobody traded,
The strongest ones fled, and illness cascaded.
We would have offered you anything, made you the Pope !
Ev’ryone feared at the spectre amongst us,
And ev’ryone feared for the health of the youngsters;
Look to our children – their future became our last hope.

Thank you, sir, thank you sir, you have deliverèd !
Thank you for ridding our cellars of nestings !
Leading your river of rats to the riverbed,
Besting the beasties of pantry molestings.
Now is our artisans’ industry recommensed,
Thanks to the man in the bright-coloured suiting.
Talent like you displayed must be well-recompensed,
Must be rewarded to honour your fluting.
How much I wish we could honour our promises,
Honour the price we agreed in our anguish –
But all of our shelves are so empty and ominous,
All of our prospects still fester and languish.
Nobody’s rich, and ev’ryone’s starving –
So let us rebuild, before you come carving
Your portions of nothing to meet your retainer agreed.
Give us some time, for trade to be mettled;
Pray, give us some time, and all will be settled.
Look to our children, and teach them to follow your lead.

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