“I cannot say I did not hear….”

The One Who Stayed

You should have heard the old men cry,
You should have heard the biddies
When that sad stranger raised his flute
And piped away the kiddies.
Katy, Tommy, Meg and Bob
Followed, skipping gaily,
Red-haried Ruth, my brother Rob,
And little crippled Bailey,
John and Nils and Cousin Claire,
Dancin’, spinnin’, turnin’
‘Cross the hills to God knows where —
They never came returnin’.
‘Cross the hills to God knows where
The piper pranced, a leadin’
Each child in Hamlin Town but me,
And I stayed home unheedin’.
My papa says that I was blest
For if that music found me,
I’d be witch-cast like all the rest.
This town grows old around me.
I cannot say I did not hear
That sound so haunting hollow —
I heard, I heard, I heard it clear…
I was afraid to follow.

-Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

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