Robert Browning: Poems

the pied piper of Hamelin

"the pied piper of Hamelin" tell the story of a character who plays music in order to lure rats out of a town in Europe. The author compares Smailovic from "A Cellist Plays in the Streets of Sarajevo" to the Pied Piper and says Smailovic is "Calling out the rats that infest the human spirit" What does the author mean by this statement? 

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Those who hired the Piper were solely concerned with material life, and their decisions ended up costing the entire town its happiness. The poem subtly makes a comment on economics and politics in this way. First, the use of the word "Corporation" makes the poem more updated than the classic tale. The suggestion is that a population is ruled not only by its government (personified by the Mayor) but also its economic systems (represented by the Corporation). In the poem, these entities do not control the population through deceit but rather with the support of the population. The people in this poem are content to stay quiet until their safety is explicitly threatened, at which point they make demands of the Mayor and Corporation. Considering that Browning lived in an age of European revolutions, it is an interesting element that seeps in and makes the poem contemporary to his Victorian period.