Part I in a series of long fairy tale poems I wrote on one of the most captivating figures in folklore.
At the Gates of Dawn
Once upon a time, not too long ago
In a village that sat adjacent to a mountain
Lived a people modest and humble.
Crowded and small, the village was barricaded by a wall.
The stone wall had saved the village many a time
From the travesties of medieval life.
Threats were thwarted from the valiant Teutonic Knights of the Old Order –
Warriors of God, pious beasts that preyed on the flesh of the unholy
A couple of miles west of the village ran the River Weser,
Serving as a natural sentinel of the fortuitous population.
Calamity had not befallen the village until one strange day it grew.
A horde of plague-ridden rats had invaded the village,
Ravaging the food-supply and infecting the once-prosperous villagers with the plague.
Days after the takeover the village had finally given up.
The fright against these tiny monsters proved fruitless.
On the dawn of the first Monday of that fateful October
The Mayor convened an assembly of village elders
Where he called upon the villagers to center the village square.
Here he exclaimed that he was willing to pay half of village’s treasury
In gold and silver to the first man to get rid of the rats,
The pestilent creatures that have brought the peaceful village to the cusp of starvation.
A great deal of villagers had spoken of migration,
Something the wealthy Mayor was not willing to risk.
The sun had set, and no one had yet found a way to help the village.
The following dawn a the village guards heard a knock on the wall.
Ringing the bell tower the Mayor had awoken, along with most of the villagers.
The Mayor climbed the stairs of the wall to see who had knocked so early.
Standing majestically in front of the gate was a young man
Dressed in a pied robe with red and black stockings and a cap with a dangling feather.
In his hands he held a flute.
The Mayor called at him, asking him what he could do for him.
Looking up at the Mayor, the man replies,
“I have come to cleanse this village of plague.
Of course, for the price you had promised.”
Jovial, the Mayor accepted the help of the man and allowed him into the village,
And so entered a Piper at the Gates of Dawn,
Seeking to help the villagers in exchange for gold and silver
The Piper picked up his flute and started playing.
Written by Mensur Gjonbalaj
April 10, 2013