The Highwaymen

 

 

 

 

When I was a little boy around nine

I heard this poem one time

It struck a chord and still to this day

It kick started me on my way

 

On the way to what I still have no clue

But it stayed with me as I grew

One of only few things I seem to recall

That stained it's beauty on my hearts wall

 

It enriched me with its flavour 

Of how he couldn't save her

He rode where angels feared to tread

For a noble cause that left him dead

 

So I hope you enjoy this, as much as I did

I hope it takes you back to when you were a kid

The outlaw goes riding riding riding out of sight

Into the dark just beyo the moonlight

 

The Highwayman

By Alfred Noyes

PART ONE

 

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’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,   

A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin. 

They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.   

And he rode with a jewelled twinkle, 

         His pistol butts a-twinkle, 

His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky. 

 

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-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, 

         Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair. 

 

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked 

Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.   

His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,   

But he loved the landlord’s daughter, 

         The landlord’s red-lipped daughter. 

Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say— 

 

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night, 

But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light; 

Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,   

Then look for me by moonlight, 

         Watch for me by moonlight, 

I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.” 

 

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand, 

But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand 

As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;   

And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, 

         (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!) 

Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west. 

 

PART TWO

 

He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;   

And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,   

When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,   

A red-coat troop came marching— 

         Marching—marching— 

King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door. 

 

They said no word to the landlord. 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 jest. 

They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast! 

“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say— 

Look for me by moonlight;

         Watch for me by moonlight;

I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the 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 like 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 strove no more for the rest.   

Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle 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’s refrain. 

 

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;   

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear? 

Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill, 

The highwayman came riding— 

         Riding—riding— 

The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still. 

 

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, 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 west; he did not know who stood   

Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!   

Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear   

How Bess, 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 in 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 a 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 moor,   

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 inn-yard. 

He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.   

He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   

But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, 

         Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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Comments (14)

  1. macabre360

    Hey w-79 The winds are dashing me about at the moment. I’ll be winging my way back here by nightfall So I can take this in good order as it should be. So later then. And its good to see you up and about again W.

    November 22, 2016
    1. wonderwall79

      With brim down I give you a nod, good sir
      Yes I have been having a lot of trouble posting on my end.
      The doors locked but I’ll find a way in some where.
      Always a pleasure sir to hear from the eye in the sky

      November 23, 2016
  2. cjb321

    Oh I haven’t seen this in such a loong time. I have ALWAYS loved it. Thank you so much!!

    November 22, 2016
    1. wonderwall79

      You are more than welcome glad it brang back some memories
      It is one of my all time favourites

      November 23, 2016
  3. Walkaboutman

    Omg, it gave me shivers, loved it and thank you for sharing.

    November 22, 2016
    1. wonderwall79

      Anytime my friend thanks for commenting
      it is always a chilling poem to read

      November 23, 2016
  4. SEC

    It’s been ages I saw this back in college
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9fWjzYiRUE

    November 22, 2016
    1. wonderwall79

      Arghhhh very cool yes I just watched it
      I’ve always loved that poem
      Thanks for the song

      November 23, 2016
      1. SEC

        you’re most welcome

        November 23, 2016
        1. wonderwall79

          November 24, 2016
  5. macabre360
    Wonderwall79 my good man. I knew this piece was a special one. Deserving of a most special comment/tribute.

    So I dedicated a post to this because the vision alone I shared a while back and this post of yours completes it.
    ~
    https://youtu.be/MmyDosjjP5U

    November 23, 2016
    1. macabre360

      A most awesome post My Man. Most awesome.

      November 24, 2016
      1. macabre360

        Well I have ta tell ya. Prior to your post. I had no idea the text at the start of this video pertained to any significant literature. I always find it amazing, not to mention educating how things relate and tie in together.
        Never to old to add another feather to me wing I always say. And a respectful thanks to a seasoned cowboy. A drift in a land where few men stand for sendin’ this one my way.

        November 25, 2016
  6. wonderwall79

    That makes two of us friend, I never seen a video that connected with this poem, funny how life shows you missing pieces which you either longer for or didn’t know.
    Even SEC posted me on this post a guy singing the highwaymen many many moons ago very interesting.
    Makes me take me hat off and scratch my head and wonder what the hell else I’ve missed

    November 25, 2016