Title: The Highwayman (Poem)
Author: Alfred Noyes
Published: 1906 (Blackwood’s Magazine)
Star Rating: 5/5
I remember reading this fantastic poem at school, when I was about nine years old, and having to act it out for a History or English lesson, and perhaps at the time, I didn’t appreciate it’s quality and it’s pure excellence. Each line embroidered with a haunting chill, creating a magical ripple of darkness throughout the following verse. Each word emphasizing a frosty and ominous impact on the reader, teasing them to read on… Here is a collection of my favourite lines:
The Road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple Moor…
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle…
Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse at the sky…
The description throughout this poem is breath-taking, and wonderful to read aloud. The style is very tactful and effective: the fifth line appearing to be an ‘echo’ of the fourth, in each 6-line verse, creating a very atmospheric and interesting read.
The subject of the poem is actually rather sad, as we read about the Highwayman’s eternal attraction for Bess, the landlord’s daughter, who kills herself to save him from being murdered by ‘King George’s Men’. Nevertheless, it is a breath-taking tale.
The illustrations in the edition I included at picture of at the top of this review – are striking, and I highly recommend this volume. They are eerily gruesome and effective, depicting the scenes, fantasticly. Some examples: –