This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday Rave: The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.

Alfred Noyes was born 137 years ago today. I shall be for ever grateful to Noyes for writing Daddy Fell Into The Pond, which was one of the works which opened my mind to the joy of poetry, but The Highwayman is probably Noyes' most famous work.

The whole text can be found HERE, but this is the beginning:

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.

It's such splendid stuff - I love the sound of the galloping of the highwayman's horse beneath the words - and the whole poem tells a proper story of love, madness, cruelty, heroism and some very nice clothes. Not only that, but it's quite short, and the ending, very neatly, is hinted at in the opening lines.

When Noyes was asked why the poem had become such a success, he said that at the time he wrote it (he was twenty four) he was still genuinely excited by love and adventure and heroism.

I'm much older than that, but surely no one could get to the end of The Highwayman unmoved - and while there are tales like The Highwayman we'll fight old age off yet.

Word To Use Today: torrent. This word comes, oddly, from the Latin torrēns, burning, from torrēre to burn.


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