“Pied Piper” – the first poem Tsvetaeva, written in exile, in Prague. This is a prophecy about the fate of the Russian revolution, the romantic period of which ended and began a deadly, bureaucratic, dictatorial one. It is the verdict of any utopia about the possibility of a people’s celebration, people’s power. This is a mockery of talk about the revolutionary nature of the masses, the riot of which is always based on the lowest motives – social envy and thirst for enrichment.
Tsvetaeva’s poem is extremely multifaceted. “Pied Piper” therefore became one of the eternal, stray subjects of world literature, that the interpretation of each character can be reversed. Pied Piper – and a savior, and a murderer, cruelly avenging the city for deception. Citizens – and victims, and vile deceivers, and again the victim. Music not only destroys rats, but also gives them the last opportunity to die in dying, elevating them, masquerading as something beautiful and in any case inedible.
The legend of the Pied Piper first appeared in literary processing in the “Chronicle of the Time of Charles IX” Merimee. Before that, it existed in several folklore versions. The plot is simple: in the German city of Gammel, the invasion of rats threatens to destroy all food supplies, and then the citizens themselves. A mysterious pickler comes to Gammel, who promises to take all the rats out for a huge reward. He
Tsvetaeva retains this plot, but gives the characters a special meaning, so that the conflict looks completely different from the folkloric principle. The pickler at Tsvetaeva’s is a symbol of music in general, music triumphant and independent of anything. Music is ambivalent. It is beautiful, no matter what the artist’s beliefs are and what his personality is. Therefore, taking revenge on the townspeople, the villagers are not offended by the fact that they underpaid him, not taking away their children from greed, but because he is offended by music as such.
Music is equally convincing for rats, burghers, children – for all who do not want to understand it, but willy-nilly forced to obey its heavenly harmony. The artist easily leads anyone, everyone promising what he desires. And rats are desirable for romance.
The victorious proletariat in Tsvetaeva is fairly frank, with a mass of exact details depicted in the form of a rats detachment that captured the city and now does not know what to do. Rats are bored. “Gentlemen, a secret: red is disgusting.” They are bored with their own revolutionism, they have become burnt and bloated. “My eyes swim,” “I have a syllable syllable,” “My back is hanging…” They remember themselves as brave, toothy and muscular, insatiablely hungry fighters – and are nostalgic about “in the country where the steps wide, we were called… “. The word “Bolsheviks” gets into the line by itself, because the “big road”, the big road, the symbol of wanderings, is the key word in the chapter.
They flaunt the flute: India, the new promise of struggle and conquest, wandering to where they shake off fat and remember youth (the prophetess Tsvetaeva could not know that in the heads of some cavalry leaders ripened the plan for the liberation of India, so that the fighting ardor of the Red Army did not disappear after the victory in the Civil War). Behind this romantic note, behind the promise of wandering, struggle and the second youth, the rats leave for the river.
But the children of the Pied Piper are very different, for he knows whose children they are. They are the children of a sleepy, good-natured, philistine, gossiping, greedy, murderous Gammelin, in whom everything unlike, everything alive, everything new is hated. This is the way the Tsvetaev’s world of modern Europe is seen, but also – wider – any human community, prosperous, long unaware of renewal and upheaval. This world can not withstand the invasion of rats and is doomed… unless music interferes.
Children of this world can go only for purely material, simple, miserable promises. And the picket at Tsvetaeva promises them “for girls – pearls, for boys – catching them, with a walnut… And – a secret – for everyone.” But this secret is also simple, childish, stupid: a cheap fairy tale with a mosaic finish, with prosperity in the finale. Dreams of well-bred boys and girls: do not go to school, do not listen to the alarm clock! All – soldiers, all – sweets! Why do children go for a flute? “Because everything goes.” And this childish herd, also in its own rat, demonstrates the whole inner falsity of the “child” or “youth riot”.
And music – cruel, triumphant and all-powerful – goes to itself further, ruining and saving.