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"The Piper"

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"The Piper"
Poem information
Poet(s)

Walter Blythe

No. of lines

12

No. of stanzas

2

Status

Published

Publication(s)

The Spectator (London)

Date(s)

1916

"In my books Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside, a poem is mentioned, 'The Piper', supposed to have been written and published by Walter Blythe before his death in the First World War. Although the poem had no real existence many people have written me, asking me where they could get it. It has been written recently, but seems even more appropriate now than then."
L. M. Montgomery on "The Piper"[src]

"The Piper" is a poem written by Walter Blythe during the First World War.

Excerpt

"One day the Piper came down the Glen ...
Sweet and long and low played he!
"
—The first two lines of the poem[src]

History

"The poem was a short, poignant little thing. In a month it had carried Walter's name to every corner of the globe. Everywhere it was copied—in metropolitan dailies and little village weeklies—in profound reviews and 'agony columns', in Red Cross appeals and Government recruiting propaganda. Mothers and sisters wept over it, young lads thrilled to it, the whole great heart of humanity caught it up as an epitome of all the pain and hope and pity and purpose of the mighty conflict, crystallized in three brief immortal verses. A Canadian lad in the Flanders trenches had written the one great poem of the war. 'The Piper', by Pte. Walter Blythe, was a classic from its first printing."
—Description of "The Piper"[src]

"The Piper" was written during World War I by Walter Blythe, and was describes as 'the one great poem of the war'. It had an enormous impact on morale during the war, making Walter's name famous all over the world, and was often quoted in the context of 'keep faith', though no such line exists in the poem.

Comments and analysis

"I'm enclosing a little scrap of verse, Rilla. I wrote it one evening in my trench dugout by the light of a bit of candle—or rather it came to me there—I didn't feel as if I were writing it—something seemed to use me as an instrument. I've had that feeling once or twice before but very rarely and never so strongly as this time. That was why I sent it over to the London Spectator. It printed it and the copy came today. I hope you'll like it. It's the only poem I've written since I came overseas."
—Walter in a letter to Rilla[src]

Behind the scenes

"Probably inspired at the time Montgomery wrote Rilla of Ingleside by John McRae’s 'In Flanders Fields,' Walter’s 'Piper' became famous overnight and symbolized the war effort within the story but was never produced in the novel itself ... A lacklustre lyric, Montgomery’s “Piper” is also a tepid endorsement of war."
—Elizabeth Rollins Epperly in the introduction to The Blythes Are Quoted[src]
  • L.M. Montgomery mentions that Walter had written the only great poem from the war. In reality, other poems had been written (not by Walter), such as "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae.

Appearances

Book appearances

Short story appearances

Poems
By Anne Shirley
"I Wish You" | "The Old Path Round the Shore" | "Guest Room in the Country" | "The New House"
"Robin Vespers" | "Night" | "Man and Woman" | "There is a House I Love" | "Sea Song" | "To a Desired Friend"
"Midsummer Day" | "Remembered" | "Farewell to an Old Room" | "The Haunted Room" | "Song of Winter"
"Success" | "The Gate of Dream" | "An Old Face" | "Come, Let Us Go" | "For Its Own Sake" | "The Change"
"The Wind" | "The Bride Dreams" | "The Parting Soul" | "Memories" | "Grief" | "The Room" | "The Aftermath"
By Walter Blythe
"The Piper" | "Interlude" | "A June Day" | "Wind of Autumn" | "The Wild Places"
"I Know" | "May Song" | "The Parting Soul" | "My House" | "Canadian Twilight"
"Oh, We Will Walk with Spring Today" | "I Want" | "The Pilgrim" | "Spring Song" | "The Aftermath"

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