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ESL forum > Ask for help > Help plz!    

Help plz!


Help plz!
Dear colleagues,
What does piping loud mean?
I don’t know where I lived before then. My life began on the carrier’s cart which brought me up the long slow hills to the village, and dumped me in the high grass, and lost me. I had ridden wrapped up in a Union Jack to protect me from the sun, and when I rolled out of it, and stood piping loud among the buzzing jungle of that summer bank, then, I feel, was I born. 

8 Jan 2022      

United Kingdom

Hi Caren, this one is a bit difficult! It is not a set phrase. Pipe up is, and it means to suddenly start talking and pipe down, which I say to my students a lot;-) means be quiet. Maybe it means that the author was not abashed, not scared. He had a sudden surge of confidence and was proclaiming that he could cope and face the world in the strange and difficult circumstances he found himself in? I certainly think it is figurative and has nothing to do with an actual pipe. 

8 Jan 2022     

United Kingdom

Hello there, Caren. As it goes, I just did a lesson on collocations, and "piping hot" was one of them. "Piping," as an adjective, only really collocates with hot. However, as Lynne has pointed out, the phrasal verbs "pipe up" and "pipe down" are pretty common. This looks like a case of "artistic license" on the part of the writer and is a kind of play on words.  By saying "piping loud" rather than "piping hot" we get the impression of somebody making a rather bold, and very noticeably unashamed,  noise. Especially when "pipe down" and "pipe up" are used when talking about making oneself heard to overcome, or in spite shyness. It is rather a good piece of artistic flair by the writer. 

8 Jan 2022     

United Kingdom

Well done, Dale. 

8 Jan 2022     


Thanks, Dale and Lynne! 

8 Jan 2022     


I found this poem on internet where we can see “piping loud” which would mean here “crying” like new-born babies do.


In summary, a baby tells us about its birth: its mother groaned with the pain of childbirth, but its father also wept, possibly because the father knew the full horrors of the world the infant was being born into. Indeed, the infant tells us that the world it was born into was dangerous.


William Blake’s ‘Infant Sorrow’

My mother groan’d! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud;
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.

Struggling in my father’s hands:
Striving against my swaddling bands:
Bound and weary I thought best
To sulk upon my mother’s breast.



9 Jan 2022