The Highwayman

“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 highway came riding, riding-riding. The Highwayman came riding, up to the old in door.” The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is one of my favorite poems and indeed a classic. It is a beautiful poem and shows amazing visual images. The poem has many meanings to me, you just have to read between the lines. The Highwayman shows many different aspects of love: the passion, beauty, and the sacrifice of it.

The poem opens up with the Highwayman riding up to the Inn door to meet Bess, the landlord’s black haired daughter. Bess likes to tie a dark red love-knot in her hair, waiting for her highwayman to appear. This scene where you read about the highwayman and Bess is very beautiful. Noyes describes the highwayman as dumb as a dog when near Bess. To me this is amazing metaphor, because dogs love humans. Even if their master beats them, a dog will always love them. A dog’s love is pretty amazing. When the highwayman leaves Bess, he tells her that he will be back by tomorrow night even though Hell will bar the way. To me, this is also an amazing gesture of dedication to his her. For even if hell stood between him and Bess, he would go through and not let it win.

The sacrifice that is made is when Bess kills herself in order to save her lover from the men that came to kill him. She made the best sacrifice someone could make, to die for another person. It also wasn’t easy for her to kill herself as well. She had to struggle to put the musket pointing at her breast and pull the trigger. The landlord’s daughter made a selfless decision, she was not thinking about herself but for another. That is what love should be, selfless.

The world has changed so much to where people will have love for their own amusement. Another amazing thing about this poem is that is shows how certain people play with love. King George’s men both tease Bess, like she is just there not only for their trap but also for their amusement. “They had tied her up to attention, with many sniggering jest,” they were looking at her like she was something that was there for their personal amusement, not a person with feelings. This is how the world acts today; people today only care about themselves and not for others.

The Highwayman shows how love is and should be today. So many people do not know the meaning of love. Their definition of love is making out or having sex with who ever and whenever they want. The world has become selfish in it’s own way, not caring for other people but themselves. People should read The Highwayman and should learn from this poem on how to love one another. They should learn how to properly love, so that they can make a difference in this world.


~ by Katie on February 28, 2010.

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