"The Highwayman" poem by ALFRED NOYES



the high women by Alfred Noyes the wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas the road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor and the highwayman came riding riding riding the highwayman came riding up to the old Inn door he the French cocked hat on his forehead a bunch of lace at his chin a coat of the claret velvet and breeches a brown doeskin they fitted with never a wrinkle his boots were up to the thigh and he rode with a jeweled twinkle his pistol but a twinkle his rapier hilt a twinkle under the jeweled sky over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark in yard he tapped with his whip on the shutters but all was locked and barred he whistled a tune to the window and who should be waiting there but the landlord's black-eyed daughter this the landlord's daughter plating a dark red love not into her long black hair and dark in the dark old Inn yard a stable wicked Creek where Tim the Ostler listened his face was white and peeked his eyes were hollows of madness his hair like moldy hay but he loved the landlord's daughter the landlord's red-lipped daughter dumb as a dog he listened and he heard the robbers say one kiss my bonny sweetheart I'm after a prize tonight but I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light yet if they press me sharply and hairy me through the day then look for me by moonlight watch for me by moonlight I'll come to the by moonlight though he'll should bother way he rose up right in the stirrups he scarce could reach her hand but she loosened her hair in the casement her face burnt like a brand as the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast and he kissed it's waves in the moonlight oh sweet black waves in the moonlight then he tugged at his rain in the moonlight and galloped away to the west he did not come at the dawning he did not come at noon and out of the tawny sunset before the rise the moon when the road was the gypsy's ribbon looping the purple nor a Redcoat troupe came marching marching marching king george's men came marching up to the old Endor they said no word to the land Lord they drank his ale instead but they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed two of them knelt at her casement with muskets at their side there was death at every window and hell at one dark window for Bess could see through her casement the road that he would ride they had tied her up to attention with many a sniggering gesture they had bound a musket beside her with the muzzle beneath her breasts now keep good watch and they kissed her she heard the doomed man say look for me by moonlight watchful me by moonlight I'll come to thee by moonlight though he'll should bother way she twisted her hands behind her but all the knots held good she writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood they stretched and strained in the darkness and the hours crawled by light-years till now on the stroke of midnight cold on the stroke of midnight the tip of one finger touched it the trigger at least was hers the tip of one finger touched it she strode no more for the rest up she stood up to attention with the barrel beneath her breast she would not risk their hearing she would not strive again for the road lay bare in the moonlight blank and bare in the moonlight and the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love refrain plot plot plot plot had they herded the horse who was ringing clear plot plot plot plot in the distance were they death that they did not hear down the ribbon of moonlight over the brow of the hill the highwayman came riding riding riding and the Redcoats looked to their priming she stood up straight and still plot plot in the frosty silenced plot plot in the echoing night nearer he came and nearer her face was like a light her eyes grew wide for a moment she drew one last deep breath then her finger moved in the moonlight her musket shattered the moonlight shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death he turned he spurred to the westward he did not know who stood bowed with her head or the musket drenched with her own blood not till the dawn he heard it and his face grew gray to hear how best the landlord's daughter the landlord's black-eyed daughter had watched for her love in the moonlight and died in the darkness there back he spurred like a madman shrieking a curse to the sky with the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high blood-red were his Spurs to the golden noon wine red was his velvet coat when they shot him down on the highway down like a dog on the highway and he lay in his blood on the highway with the bunch of lace at his throat and still of a winter's night they say when the wind is in the trees when the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas when the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple more a highwayman comes riding riding riding a highwayman comes riding up to the old Inn door over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark in yard and he taps with his whip of the shudders but all is locked and barred he whistles attuned in the window and who should be waiting there but the landlord's black eyed daughter Bess the landlord's daughter plating a dark red love not into her long black hair

19 thoughts on “"The Highwayman" poem by ALFRED NOYES

  1. When I was a kid of 7 or 8 most of my peers were having Mother Goose stories read to them or Disney storybooks. Nope, not me. My mother, who had a wonderfully melliflous voice, read this poem to me. She also read Shakespeare sonnets. And I loved it! My mother is no longer around, it means so much to me to hear this poem again. Thank you for this video.

  2. What a Relief

    Already five years since debut.

    Just boys with many dreams.

    ‘We’ had nothing, now we have many things.

    ‘We’ only had dreams, now we have become someone else’s dream.

    Life is a repetition of choice and regret

    I am scared again.

    We are scared again.

    We dreamed of a blue sky,

    but it is too high up and cold here.

    I struggle to breathe,

    and as more light shines on us

    it’s only law that the shadows multiply too.

    What a relief that there are seven of us.

    What a relief that we are together. bts

  3. I read this year's ago when I was 16 years old and loved it. I am now 73 ! It came to my mind the other day for some reason, and I decided to find it on utube. Love this !

  4. One of the best poems ever written in the English language.

  5. Plaiting is actually pronounced like this (Platting). I made the very same mistake when I was first reading it until my teacher corrected me

  6. Great poem, I learned this poem, and have loved poetry ever since

  7. Very well done! I love your expression as you read this. Thanks for sharing.

  8. First heard this read by Dr. Dobson on "Focus on the Family" radio many many years ago (30+ years). I've thought about it often. Lucky me, I found it!! 8/15/2018

  9. I find this oddly mesmerizing, I was never into poetry before.

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