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The Highwayman -- Alfred Noyes

(Poem #13) The Highwayman
  The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
  The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
  The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
  And the highwayman came riding--
  The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

  He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead, and a bunch of lace at his chin;
  He'd a coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of fine doe-skin.
  They fitted with never a wrinkle; his boots were up to his thigh!
  And he rode with a jeweled twinkle--
  His rapier hilt a-twinkle--
  His pistol butts a-twinkle, under the jeweled 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.

  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 black-eyed daughter;
  Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber 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 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 stood 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 sweet black waves of perfume came tumbling o'er his breast,
  Then he kissed its waves in the moonlight
  (O sweet black waves in the moonlight!),
  And he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

  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 over the purple moor,
  The redcoat troops came 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 by 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 bound her up at attention, with many a sniggering jest!
  They had tied a rifle beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
  "Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead 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, 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 at 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 in her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.

  Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, 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--
  The redcoats 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 casement, drenched in her own red blood!
  Not till the dawn did he hear 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 in the highway,
  Down like a dog in the highway,
  And he lay in his blood in the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

  And still on 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 gypsy's ribbon looping the purple moor,
  The highwayman comes riding--
  The 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.
-- Alfred Noyes
This is a poem I can rarely glance at without reading all the way through,
and can rarely read without a shiver. It is also, IMHO, one of Noyes' most
perfect poems, in terms of effortless, compelling rhythm and simple, yet
wonderfully lyrical phrases. Loreena McKennitt has a hauntingly beautiful
version on her album 'The Book of Secrets'.

Biographical Notes:

  English poet, a traditionalist remembered chiefly for his lyrical verse.

  Noyes' first volume of poems, The Loom of Years (1902), published
  while he was still at the University of Oxford, was followed by others
  that showed patriotic fervour and a love for the sea. He taught modern
  English literature at Princeton University in the United States from 1914
  to 1923. Of Noyes's later works, the most notable is the epic trilogy The
  Torch-Bearers (1922-30), which took as its theme the progress of
  science through the ages. His autobiography, Two Worlds for Memory,
  appeared in 1953.
        -- Encyclopaedia Britannica


  Alfred Noyes was born at Staffordshire, September 16, 1880. He is one of
  the few contemporary poets who have been fortunate enough to write a kind
  of poetry that is not only saleable but popular with many classes of
  What is most appealing about his best verse is its ease and heartiness;
  this singer's gift lies in the almost personal bond established between
  the poet and his public. People have such a good time reading his
  vivacious lines because Noyes had such a good time writing them.
        -- Louis Untermeyer, Modern British Poetry

And, in contradistinction

  His first book, The Loom of Years (1902), was published when he was only
  22 years old, and Poems (1904) intensified the promise of his first
  publication. Swinburne, grown old and living in retirement, was so struck
  with Noyes's talent that he had the young poet out to read to him.
  Unfortunately, Noyes has not developed his gifts as deeply as his admirers
  have hoped. His poetry, extremely straightforward and rhythmical, has
  often degenerated into cheap sentimentalities and cheaper tirades; it has
  frequently attempted to express programs and profundities far beyond
  Noyes's power.
        -- ibid.

  [See <> for the whole
   essay, which is longish]


542 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 542   Newer›   Newest»
Rob Hindley said...

Hello there,
My name is Rob and I really like this poem, have you got any infomation
on Alfred Noyes? If you have could you please send it to me at

I thank you in advance

Rob Hindley.

JBarff said...

Hey - I hope SOMEONE gets this!

The Highwayman - one of the finest poems. Has anyone seen the illustrations
by Charles Causley? If not - then search them out. They are stupendous!

Jane (England)

Cat Freshwater said...

Isn't there a typo in the first line? Shouldn't it read "...darkness
among the gusty trees"?

Burgess Lora A said...

A very skilled female musician has applied this poem to classical music.
You're probably already aware of her. Lorena McKennitt. I listen to this
song almost on a daily basis and the violins, along with her own skilled
ranges amaze me.

mlayton said...

This is truly a wonderfully moving poem-

Thank you for making it available

Cecilia said...

Been hunting for the words to this for some time. Ilearnt it as a youngster
and just wanted to visit old memories.Thank you.

Barry & Sandy Clark said...

I lost my mother's poetry book 40 years ago with this poem in it and she
has never let me live it down. I am sending her a copy and I know I
will now be forgiven. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Sandy Clark
Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland, Australia

PFisher637 said...

A very moving piece with everything that needs to be in a poem.

Jennifer Czech said...


--- Jennifer Czech
--- EarthLink: It's your Internet.

chris cornwell said...

Thank you for putting this poem on the net. Yours was the only version I
could find.

Ruth Storms said...

Thank you so very much for making this lovely poem available on the
internet. I know I have it in an old text book on English Lit., but I
couldn't remember the author. I've been hunting for hours but in vain until
I thought of you. What a beautiful thing it is! Ruth

Art Wolinsky said...

I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned the Phil Ochs version of the
Highwayman from the late 60's. (I guess I'm aging myself.) It isn't
the complete poem, but the rendition captures the rising crescendo of
the events and emotions in the poem. The Lorena McKennit version is
complete and beautiful, but I favor the Ochs version. ...but then
again, Phil Ochs is my favorite folk artist.

Fred Morris said...

What a pleasure to find this poem again after so many years! When I was
a child, the picture painted by the first stanza made such an impression
on me that I took the time to memorize it, and I still find myself
repeating it whenever I happen to notice that the moon is a ghostly
galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

Kristina Arnold said...

what is an ostler?? I have seen it refered to as holster but am
confused...Please help if you can.

Lord-Batu said...

The version I first read said Tim loved the landlord's "red-lipped
daughter". Has anyone else seen this version?

Brian Struthers said...

This has got to be my favorite poem, we read it in grade 7 and I have
been looking for it since then, I love the whole story behind it and the
incredible pictures he can paint And a Ostler is a Stableman at an inn

Lynne MacMillan said...

I love the poem the highwayman we did a unit on it in school we got to
listen to a song called the Highwayman it's so cool me and my friend
Lindsay love it!!!!

from sara

Lynn J. Nye said...

Hi. I was just wondering if anyone had any info about the time period
this poem takes place during. I'm writing a story based on this poem
and I'm trying to get all the research together for it. If anyone has
anything, please email me at . I'm just trying
to get this as historically/factually correct as possible. I've been
having a hard time finding anything, so whatever anyone has would be
greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch!

ABINC said...

I first read "The Highwayman" thanks to an enlightened English teacher in
the 7th grade. I was moved by it then and neither the passage of time nor
countless rereadings have diminished the thirll I have each time I take it
up. I've wondered if anyone ever put this piece to a drama, say a video
short. I know that another famous poem, "The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny"
ended up as a stylized jazz number that was visually seductive but too
shallow. Despite that criticism, It proves that some of these ballads can
be made into stunning visual presentations. I would really relish WATCHING
"The Highwayman."

-- Jay L. Stern

Dave & Anna Miller said...

I first came across this poem when, as an adult, I was reading the Anne of Green Gables Series (Elizabeth Montgomery?). Then the mini series came on TV and included a wonderful scene where the character of Anne recites the poem for a wonderstruck audience. I had often thought about the poem as I had never read or heard it in it's entirety...until this morning. I was on my way into the city of Perth (Australia) with my husband and he was playing one of his favourite CD's by Loreena McKennitt. I had heard this track numerous times before but today I really listened and when I heard "the highwayman came riding, riding, riding..." I said "I think this is a famous poem". My husband said "It's a bit of a sad one." as he had heard the ballad often. Wonderfully moved, right there in the snail paced peak hour traffic, I decided to find the words to the poem. So now after a long day I find your web site (second on the search list). Thanks a million, I can now revisit a poem I never really found until now. I can share it with my husband who found it a different way and finally helped me find it. Once again we meet from different directions and then share the same path.

Anna and Dave (Australia)

David said...

Um... Hi.... The Highwayman is my favorite poem. I first heard it while my mom was playing her Lorenna McKennit cd. Back a few replies, you said that She leaves out the verse of Tim the Ostler... Well, she does, but she also leaves out another one... I cant at the moment think of it... But, I'm 12 And I have really enjoyed this poem... (It's strange for me to like poems at all!) So, I would recommend this poem to Anyone!

Bernadette Russo said...

From Peter R.

One of the most memorable poems from my childhood i.e. late 50's early 60's.

For the information of readers, Loreena McKennit, a Canadian singer, has set the poem to music on her album "The Book of Secrets". I don't think her rendition of the song does the poem justice, although she is a skilled musician and singer.

I imagine the poem , if sung, should have a driving beat reminiscent of the highwayman riding, which is the logical rhythm of the song.

Poems do not always succeed as songs unless adapted and re-written so the music complements the lyric. Sung as is, there are too many syllables to make it scan correctly as a song. I'd be interested to hear other reader's comments

Peter R


I LIKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

reference1 said...

Yes this is indeed a great poem. I'm surprised at the number of people
who didn't think to ask at their local library for it. Remember -
librarians are your ultimate search engine!

Rachel_P_2000 said...

My mother studied this poem at school in the late 1940's. She read it to me as a young girl and I have read it now to my son (whose seven). It's powerful description of the atmosphere and emotions makes it one of the most moving and passionate love stories I have ever read. It is full of drama and shows tenderness and dignity and my son loves it being read aloud. I think it is good choice for boys as an example of poetry and love. Because it's not all 'sissy stuff'!

stephanie.wisbey said...

Thank you so much for printing The Highwayman. My daughter has been searching for it for some time - I could not remember the author and could not find the old school book where I first read this brilliant poem. With appreciation and thanks, Stephanie and daughter Chloe.

John D said...

As a child, I appreciated the thrill of it. As an adult, I appreciate the depth of it.

jschofield said...

i think more of alfred noyes poems should be added to this page

Hendrickson Derek-DHENDRI1 said...

Nice try, but this version is fatally flawed for me. It's as though whoever
put this on the Internet did so from memory. For example, it's ON the
highway not IN the highway. And the landlord's daughter is red-lipped to
Tim the ostler. And there are many places where the words have been altered
from Alfred Noyes' original perfection to be rendered less so. A better
version is available at
[broken link] and though it
has a couple of obvious typo's, including the author's name, the poem is
accurate and much more satisfying to the purists of poetry. If you click on
"Select All" and save it to a Word document, it will be formatted correctly.

Sebastian Millan said...

What is the theme of the "Highwayman"? Please answer back.

Thank You

Tessa McLean said...

Like so many others I learnt this poem as a child and couldn't remember
the author. Thank you for posting this on the web, I have to agree with
Derek Henderson about the version his link takes you to the version I
learnt. Maybe there has been some translation as it crossed the Atlantic
- so many comments seem to be from Americans.

I can now go and look for an anthology of his poetry, so thank you.


amy said...

as to the written..... i from l.a. once sat at a window and......( a woman running down the street screaming, the man in the moon is frowning....people laugh.... and find her dead in the morning) go figure........and so it goes....why? i guess well be here from time to time till all is known. try to injoy and make the best of the blessings we forget to count. and so be with you.

~][)em said...

I am so glad to see this poem. It has to be my all time favorite and still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.
Its haunting and lovely and so terribly sad, just as love is sometimes.

I found this poem the first time in the childrens book of poems that came with my Worldbook Encyclopedia my father bought for
us, the picture that they had in the book next to this poem was beautiful as well and I so wish I could find it.

Thank you for making me remember this poem, Celeste Bynum

Bracken Lodge said...

I am stuck with my homework on this poem. Do you know a site with information on the characters, theme and use of language of this poem. I do really like this poem. Hazel, 12

Diana Wiant said...

I read this poem in my Literature class (when I was actually supposed to be reading A Christmas Carol) and I loved it! I wanted the words so bad! Thank You! I also own Loreena McKennitt's The Book of Secrets and love the song The Highwayman.

a problem fixer said...

This is my favorite poem because I could always understand it.
It wasn't like one of those poems that you need a explaination before you can really understand and apperacate it. I'm 12 and this has been my favorite poem since I was 9, when I frist read it and memorized it. i noticed a few mistakes, but oh well. Thanx 4 poting it here!


reva ofarrell said...

my daughter was given four verses in school to learn of this poem and she was eager to know what happened in the end she is 11 years old and her only comment so far is That was really sad and beautiful that they are now together in heaven!

Don Loper said...

This is my favourite poem of old . I learned it in grade school. At 57
years of age the story still haunts me. It's rich description, rhyme and
rhythm all delight the senses This one poem has urged me to become a poets
as well. I have been writing since my late forties and would like to aspire
to Alfred Noyes' great talent of this beautifully crafted story poem.

Julie Szabo

you may Email me at dloper23@shaw .ca


Do you know the poem "Black Bill's Honeymoon"? Someone said Alfred
Noyes had written it but I have not been able to find it. Thank you.

Cathy said...

My mother used to read this poem to me as a child. then when in high school we had to read it again and it brought back those memories. I have my mothres old poetry book of "A thousand and one Poems" a very old book, most of the authors in this book were still alive at the time of printing, many from the eighteen hundreds. This poem is in the book with the authors picture still alive at that time. This poem has meant so much for me as my mother is now passed on. Thank you for allowing me to find it on the webb, since i am apart from the book. stationed in guam due to the 9-11 events. again thank you for bringing a few happy memories back during this time of separation and lonelness. my email address is

thanks Catherine Long

Daigh22 said...

I'm a 7th grader and I just read "The Highwayman" in school, because of a
very talented literature teacher I read things as not just words, but
feelings. When I read this poem I realized the enduring love, passion, force
of seperation, and sacrifice. The most tear summoning part of this poem is
the amount of sacrifice that one would give for another. This poem taught me
the strength of love and I will be forever grateful for one of the most
wonderful teachers in the world to teach me to read and listen to the words
with my heart.


Tiner Family said...

My homework is to do a report about this poem. I like the poem alot but not when my stupid Language teacher reads it aloud. I like to read it alone because it seems more thrilling!!!!!!

Miquel Faig said...

I know there are many errors in this poem, but one very fatal one is that
in the poem above it is written that they tied her with the barrel to her

Well, if they REALLY did that then it wouldnt of been her breast that blows
up, but her jaw. I should of written " with the MUZZLE to her chest"
- Amanda -

Mandy said...

I LOVE this poem! It is my favorite and I will always look up to Alfred Noyles since I also want to be a poet.

Musser said...

The Highwayman is one of the most heartrending poems I have yet read. When I took in even the first stanza I loved it and even more did it fascinate me when I had finished It is a truly great piece of literature, a work of pure artistry and talent, and I am glad that there is still such gift and skill in this world. Always will this have a special place in the mind of all who seeks what is truly good and meaningful. I am so glad this was posted on the Internet, for I have been searching for it since I read it in my 7th grade language arts class. Oh, and by the way, Dave and Anna Miller, it was Lucy Maud Montgomery(Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books!)


delia said...

The first time I ever heard of this poem was when I bought Loreena
McKennitt's album "book of secrets" and I loved it ever since.
I like poems which tell a story you can understand without having too many
problems, because English is not my mother language and in some cases I have
still problems to catch the meaning of some words or phrases, because we
wouldn't use them in the same way in my own language, but with the
Highwayman I have no such problems.


Stephanie Chadwick said...

I love this poem, its FAB!! thanx v. much for posting it to the net, i
couldnt find it anywhere else
Can anyone tell me what dates he wrote it, i need it for an english essay
i'm writing.
ta v. much,

Pauleen Livermore said...

I am in the seventh grade and Hawthorne Junior High in Pocatello, ID and this poem was in our English books. Our teacher, Ms. Ragen, read it to us. I loved it and have wanted a copy to put in my collection. Thank you so much for putting it on the net!



I am not sure if any of you are aware of this, but there is a wonderful book entitled "Look for Me by Moonlight" by Mary Downing Hahn that captures the mood of this poem perfectly, without plageorizing or stealing from the actual story in any way. it's completely her own work, and is found (embarrassingly enough) among the Teen bookshelves. Do not let this fool you. It does not use a line from the poem as a title fot naught.

also, an ostler is synonomous with hostler, which is like an inkeeper, somebody who takes care of the horses and such.

Veronica said...

I really need like a paraphrasing of this poem, please help

steve wright said...

IOf you want a song version of "The Highwayman" , Phil Ochs did it in the mid sixties - available on the Phil Ochs "there but for fortune" CD -- a great rendition of a great poem.

Steve wright

steve wright said...

Does anyone remember a version the the story on either A&E or Masterpiece Theather sometime in the the last 20+years. I seem to remember one but can't find it. I can see the Highwayman "clashing across the cobbles" and " the white road smoking behind him" but I can't remember where it saw it.

Great movie

Ronald Miller said...

I learned this poem as a lad during WW2 in England, to a rattle of machinegun fire as the Battle of Britain was fought over our heads - one of our teachers (we called them form masters) would recite it in the darkness of the air raid shelter, and the thrill of the story overcame the fear we might have felt for the outside world in travail above us. I still get the same thrill reading it today, 60 years later. Thanks for publishing it. Ron Miller, Dexter NM.

Ronald Miller said...

Since my comment did not print in full the first time, I'll try to remember exactly what I wrote. I learned the poem as a boy in England during WW2. One of our teachers (we called them form masters) used to recite it in the semi-darkness of the air raid shelter, to the rattle of machinegun fire as the Battle of Britain was fought over our heads. The ghostly thrill of the poem did much to alleviate the horror of the mad world outside. I still get the same thrill when I read it today, more than 60 years later. Thank you for publishing it! Ron Miller, Dexter NM.

Martha Kirk said...

I read this poem in a forensics competition when I was in high school. As I started to read, the room was full of people, with their attendant moving and shuffling, but by the time I reached the point where The Highwayman is killed, there was total silence in the room, every eye was focused on me, and the you could cut the tension with a knife. And when I finished, there was silence for two or three seconds before there was a sort of collective sigh. I could feel that everyone of those people had been transported to the England of the 1730s or 1740s along with me. Very powerful stuff!

By the way, there was a movie made in the 1940s (I'm guessing) that was called "The Highwayman" and was supposed to be based on the poem, but the story was very different.

Lowther Charles COL said...

There are several errors in the test of this poem as represented here. For
example - "among the gusty trees", not "upon the gusty trees"., and "ribbon
of moonlight over the purple moor" not "looping the purple moor".
There are others.
Chuck Lowther

Rex B said...

this is my fav poem as my father read it to me as a child...the cadence of the poem rang as hoofbeats in my head...the emotional pull it had on me as a child still exists...thank you for submitting this poem

Greg Young said...

Hmmmmmm, Aparrently I am not the only one to first read this in the 7th
grade, yet I have been searching for it for decades now, and no one I had
talked to ever heard about it. I was starting to question if in the 19 years
sice last reading it I had forgotten the true title. Then a very informed
friend found your site. TY for giving this great poem the publicity it has
warrented since it's creation.

For the one person who said to ask their librarian, rest assured that was my
first stop after performing my own searches. unluckly, it wasn't a poem they
had read in school, and had no information. Yet I agree, the librarions are
the words best search engine.

ArchaeIndyJ said...

Thanks for putting this poem up! I am reciting it in front of my sophmore
class, freshman, parents and teachers, so I was hoping to find a copy online!
I luv this poem, the desriptions are so well put together that I can
immediately form a picture of this in my mind! Once again, thank you for
posting it, - KT

Elizabeth said...

Hi. Ooo, I noticed that someone else was also inspired to write a story based on the poem. :-) Anyways, I was wondering about the time period in which this poem takes place. I'm writing a story based on the poem and need some background on normal everyday life in this time period. So if anyone can fill me in a little, that be just awesome. Any info would be greatly appreciated. My email is . Thank you! :-)


The Highwayman is truly a wonderful poem and I think it inspired us both! I would like to paint a scene or two from it, but like you, I also need to research the time period. It was definitely during the American Revolution, because the Redcoats (the British Army cloaked in red uniforms) were a main feature in the poem. Research the dates between 1775 and 1783; your best bet would be to search your local library or If you come across any costume tips, e-mail a picture or description to . Good luck!


"The Highwayman" was first copyrighted in 1906. You'll most likely find the best help for your project at


i heard this first today at my friends house. she has Lorena Mkennitts book of secrets and a book of stories with the highwayman in it. we do a lot of drama and were thinking of doing a at home video short, but would we need to get legal permission to use the words or anything? i fell completely in love with the highwayman it's my favorite poem.

Cassie248 said...

I absolutely love this poem. My eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Borst
would play music when we wrote in our journals. One day she played this song
and I was overwhelmed with my liking of it. I got the lyrics offline and
eventually got the music to it, I can now know it by heart. I sing this to
my little brother, and I would offer it to anybody. This poem is beautiful.

Bridsul1 said...

i read it in class at rock lake middle school i really liked it

Thierry said...

I discoved that poem last week, thanks to Loreena Mckennitt's version, and it has been haunting me since. Yet, I found no translation in French, nor of any of Noyes' writings. Should someone know more about it, can they help me?
I do apologize for my English and for all the mistakes this text must be filled with.

Thierry said...

I discouved that poem last week, thanks to Loreena Mckennitt's version, and it has been haunting me since. Yet, I found no translation of it in French, nor of any of Noyes' writings. Should someone know, would they be kind enough to share their knowledge?
I do apologize for my English and for all the mistakes that text must be filled with

Brommersinc said...

this is a brill poem

BLOM said...

Oh my gosh this is poem is awsome. I was looking through my Loreena McKennitt (Book of Secrets) Cd cover with the lyrics. It said the peom was slightly redone. I love the song and the poem. My classmates would probably disagree with me, But I think that we should be reading more poetry in the ninth grade then we do. I mean when else? Also if you like the peom, check out Loreena McKennitt's CD the book of secrets. My other favorite song on it is Dante's Prayer, inspired by the Divine Comedy by Dante. If anyone gets a hold of piano or a c keyed instrument music for either or any of the songs, please e-mail me ASAP at . Thank you sooo much. Also, of her other Cd's they are wonderful. She also puts the lyrical writ of the Lady of Shallot into music. It is truely captivating.

BLOM said...

have you recieved any information on the clothing worn or what the houses were like in the time period of the Highwayman? I am also doing a painting, but do not know what exactly to do. If you could help me, please. E-mail me back at please. Thank you so much.


Mark Wowk said...


Just wondering if someone could please tell me where to find the
illustrations by Charles Causley based on 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes?
Any help would be much appreciated, as I haven't yet been able to locate a
suitable website.

Thanks in advance!


Mark Wowk said...

Does anyone know where to find the illustration(s) by Charles Causley based
on The Highwayman? It was mentioned by Jane near the top of this comments
page, but after much web-searching (not by the moonlight), I cannot find any
illustrations by CC. A pointer (URL) in the right direction would be much


Consuelo said...

I am reading the comments about The Highwayman. Did you correct your
daughter when she said the Highwayman and Bess were together in heaven?
The Highwayman was a thief. Are we told anywhere that Bess is a Christian
believer? If not, neither Bess, nor the Highwayman were in heaven.
(Hypothetically and poetically speaking.)

Consuelo said...

My mother had me memorize this poem when I was in the sixth grade. I
remember with amusement how one of the boys snickered when I said the word
"breast". There are a number of versions around that seem to be inaccurate.
I loved it then as I do now. I love that the poet used "colors" so much
throughout. It's really dramatic. BUT...the fact is the Highwayman was a
criminal, a thief. The poet made a hero of a thief. What if a current poem
were to be written about a man who drives around robbing motorists? What
would the poet say about the crook's girlfriend whose dad owns a Ramada Inn?

Kami0714 said...

This poem is amazing!!!I just love it so much...

Melissa said...

This is truely a great poem. I have never read it until today. I'm suprised that I never heard of it before. My 8th grade teacher told me to look it up for our online forum.


Tailgunner62 said...

I read this poem in high school and loved it a lot. I also saw the 1951
version of the movie when I was about 11 years of age. The memory of the
poem and the movie will alway`s remain in my heart. I am now 62 years
old and never has any other piece of literature had such an impression
on me as "The Highwayman" has.

Emily Arthur said...

I'm not a big fan of poetry, but after I read this one I fell in love with it. I first read it in 7th grade. Thanks for posting it online!! It is very moving and lovely, and the story is awesome too.

Vas303 said...

yeah you're right it should be ...."among the gusty trees." you have a good

lugina said...

i believe there are 102 lines instead of 103

Melanie Perkins said...

I first read this poem as a sixth grader in San Diego, California. I was in my own reading group, and had to find my own literature to read, as the basal reader was too easy for me. I took on the challenge of memorizing the whole poem, and recited it for my class. That was back in 1965, and I can still recite most of it.

I am teaching a poetry writing class to fourth through sixth graders this summer, and can't wait to share this poem with them as a wonderful example of a balad. Yet another generation will be thrilled by Alfred Noyes words.

Ash K said...

I am in middle school and read it last semester. I took on the task of memorizing it last month and now have down pretty well and am reciting it in front of seven grades. I feel rather young with all of you saying how you memorized it in 7th grade, when I am a seventh grader. Luckily, I had the song to help me memorize it. The only thing is that she also leaves out the part "The tip of one finger touched it- she strove no more for the rest. Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast. She would not risk them hearing- she would not strive again. For the road lay blank in the moonlight- blank and bare in the moonlight. And the blood in her veins in the moonlight, throbbed for her love's refrain."

Wandy and Geoff Leake said...

Don't know how many versions of this e-mail you might get. I had almost finished it when it suddenly disappeared I know not where.

The clues as to time setting come from the fashions. Highwaymen had their romantic heyday during the 18th century. There is a stunning version of the poem printed by Oxford University Press 1981 ISBN 0-19- 279748 4. It is illustrated by Charles Keeping. The book is more illustrations than words. He dresss them late 18th century.

He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead (a la Napoleon) a bunch of lace at his chin (jabot)
A coat of claret velvet (velvet rarely worn as day wear after 1800) and breeches of fine doe skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle (skin tight knee breeches were replaced by close fitting long trousers in the early 1800s). His boots were up to the thigh (fashionable for dandies late 1700s)

Hope this helps,

Wandy and Geoff Leake said...

Charles Causley was a poet not an illustrator. Other people illustrated his books. The illustrator of The Highwayman for which you are searching is probably Charles Keeping. Can't find the illustrations on the net, but details of the book are given in previous e-mail and book lists on the net.

Manfred Joeres said...

What a treat to find his site on the web. Although my memory is always
suspect now (I am 56), I believe that I first heard this wonderful poem
in the first or second grade in Glendale, Oregon, unlike many of you who
seem to have first heard this in the seventh grade. My teacher loved
this work and read it to us aloud. I was instantly mesmerized by the
rhythm of her voice-- I could hear and see and feel the highwayman's
horse clip-clopping up to the inn door.
While this poem instilled my love of poetry at an early age--I haven't
actually read 'The Highwayman' for a good many years. I decided to look
it up on the net today as part of an assignment for a neighborhood study
group. We are sharing an overview of our lives with one another,
broken into 7 year segments. My overriding sense of my first 7 years
was the development of a lifelong love for reading--and I have always
given credit to'The Highwayman' for triggering the connection to poetry.
Thank you for helping me to touch base with a wonderful part of my past.
(PS--While I see that this message is connected to my husband's name and
email address, and unfortunately I cannot seem to correct it--I am
Barbara Kimbrough Burke and can be located at )

garyaustin21 said...

Where might I find the illustrations of Causley? I
have loved this poem since I was a child. Thank You.
Best regards, Gary

PrepPrincess2788 said...

hi my name is crysta. i would absoluty love if you could send me some
information on alfred noyes for and introduction on my interp. of the highwayman!
THANKS a bunch!


Gene said...

Basically, one who cleans out barns and tends to animals. Water and food.

Thomas O'Shaughnessy said...

Although shorter than the full poem, the Phil Ochs version captures the best mood and spirit for this poem. The tremendously gifted Ochs always put heart and soul into his work and his renditions whether studio or live (Vancouver 1968) have left a life long imprint. Unfortunately the greatest of all folk singer warriors (yes greater than Dylan to the folk purest!) remains unknown to the masses...

Tom O'Shaughnessy

Dave Naramore said...

This poem always breaks my heart when I read it, and the ending gives me chills, but that's why I like it. If you want to hear it in a version that will give you the shivers, I suggest that you listen to Loreena McKennitt's musical version of the poem on her album "The Book of Secrets." I'd also like to comment that Alfred Noyes' poem "Sherwood" is also rather haunting, and I recommend it.

Gillian Milburn said...

Regarding your comment about the Highwayman poem (no idea when you
published your query and probably hundreds of people have already told

An "ostler" is also known as "hostler" - a person who looks after horses
- especially in an inn.

Blessed be

Gillian Milburn
....and dance like no one is watching....

saeed akhter said...

If you want to enjoy the dramatic effect of the poem then plz. listen to
Loreena singing Highway Man.
Saeed Akhter (PAKISTAN)

DBirds said...

This poem sends chills up my arms everytime I hear it.
everone should read this poem!

T. Butler said...

Tom here. I have been using this poem as a teaching tool for many literary
forms and skills. It is awesome and the kids really like it. I have
developed teaching strategies for this poem.

DINGO ...........
[[[ No need to fear "MegaBITES" in Dingo's Den! :-) ]]]

Alan Beeden said...

What happened there?...

Anyway, love the poem, pity about the mistakes...

RBRIEN719 said...

this poem speaks of something that truly happened in the my past

Kate Reid said...


I was interested to read that you had developed some teaching strategies
for The Highwayman. I would love to introduce this poem to my grade five
students, and was wondering if you would share some of your successful

Thanks a lot,


Molly Jones said...

As far as the time period of this poem...I beleive it is in the American colonies during the Revolutionary war (The Red Coats mentioned would be the British soldiers. It would also be much more admirable that the hero of the poem is only considered a "Highwayman", (one who robs on the public road, or lurks in the highway for the purpose of robbing-Webster's 1828 Dictionary) to the British Soldiers. Hope this Helps!

Molly Jones said...

Hi! I also am teaching this poem to my fourth graders. I would love the teaching strategies that you developed if you are willing to share them. My mother read this poem to my as a child also, as many others have said, and I love it!!

Thanks! Molly

StarDustFary333 said...

Hi I am looking up the meaning of the poem The Highway Man, which is the best
poem ever, and you seemed to know about it so I was wondering if you could
help me or if you know of any websites that might help, thanks a bunch!

- Cleo

margomendoza said...


I rehearsed this poem whn I was In second grade. I attended the Convent
of Mercy In Strabane,Co Tyrone,Northern Ireland. This was my favorite
off all and I recited this to my children when they were young. One day
to my surprise my son recited It for me from his book. Thank you for

Cheers, Margo.

Tetrault Charles D said...

Charles D. Tetrault
Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
1455 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Wini (2) said...

Your comment about wanting teaching strategies regarding the poem The Highwayman, interested me because it was used for just that when I was in the seventh grade. That was back in the early 1930's. As I recall, Mrs. Mckechney used it to point out the descriptive way the author had of likening ordinary things to a more thought provoking and touching way. For example, the road being a ribbon of moonlight, etc. It may have been standard teaching for 7th grade in the City and County of San Francisco, CA at that time. If you have a way of inquiring about this , you might find something of what you are looking for.

deltabattery said...

I did not see that it was mentioned, but the folk singer, Phil Ochs, put this poem to song, and it is wonderful to hear. Ochs suffered from depression, and, sadly, took his own life. Most of the other songs he wrote are "protest" and anti-war songs. I am not a teacher, but it seems a great way to introduce the poem to students would be through the Phil Ochs rendition, which is very moving and dramatic. Nelson Strasser.

Belinda Chille said...

This poem has been a favourite of mine since elementary school days. I
looked up the poem because my daughter will be taking poetry in school in
the upcoming semester and is not enthusiastic about the subject. I hope
this will encourage her a little. For the young girl hoping that Bess and
the Highwayman ended up in heaven I applaud you. For the person who says
differently, not for you to criticize. Also, there is a parody on this
poem, a modern day paradox, don't know the name, but would like to...if
anyone knows the name of it, please email me.

Belinda Chille
Office Manager
Policing Services, Standards and Evaluations
Public Security Division
10th Floor John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97th Street
Edmonton AB T5J 3W7


Lindsey Rizzi said...

I have been looking for a place to download the full song if The Highwayman
from Lorena McKennitt. I love her other works such as The Lady of Shallot.
Can you tell me where I might find the song online or send me the song
yourself? Thanks so much.

Lindsey K. Rizzi

Bugdenb34 said...

Great poem, I read it as a child for the first time, a moving tale. I just
found it here, have been wanting to share it with the one I love. Thank you.Bill

Cricket2633 said...

From: cricket2633@
Derek, Amanda & Chuck, you're all right! I don't care for this version. I
took "expression" for 2 yrs (ages 6&7) (1938-39) as did my 7 year OLDER sister
who had to learn this poem. On my own I learned it because it fascinated me and
I still remember it all to this day! It kinda came in handy when I was 16
(Miss Atlanta Teenage) and sent to Pittsburgh, PA to compete in the "Jr Miss
America" contest which originally had no talent competition. The sponsors were
changed at the last minute (after all the contestents had arrived) and a talent
contest was added. Since it was the last minute and I had nothing else prepared
-- I recited "The Highwayman". I love it still.

bill & garland said...

I had the privilege and great pleasure of hearing Alfred Noyes recite The Highwayman when I was about the age of Bess, the landlord's blackeyed daughter, and a student at Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, during World War II. It was magical and I've never forgotten, nor will I, the emotion that poem evoked as I waited, though happily not in vain, for the return from war of my sweetheart. Thank you for sharing this great poem with so many.
Garland O'Rourke Parten

Spackman87 said...


Alfred Noyes is my great , great uncle and im researching into him as im
interested to know what his poetry involved. please if anyone can tell me
anything. please reply.

jo unick said...

Actually, the poem reads "They bound a musket beside her/With the barrel
*beneath* her breast." So the gun is tied (as near as I can figure) to her
side/front, so that the actual shot explodes upward and into her chest.
Guns in those days weren't exactly precise instrument, and usually used lead
shot, which kind of splatters and expands as it hits the target, allowing it
to destroy a large area.


Reply to:
"I know there are many errors in this poem, but one very fatal one is that
in the poem above it is written that they tied her with the barrel to her

Well, if they REALLY did that then it wouldnt of been her breast that blows
up, but her jaw. I should of written " with the MUZZLE to her chest"
- Amanda -"

Smallwood Sandra J said...

My name is Rebecca and I love "The highwayman" It is a very good poem and is
a great love story.
If you have any good information on the author? Please send any information
to and . Thank You!!!

John M Vidler said...

I think that The Highwayman is a beautiful, beautiful poem. The first time that I read it I almost cried. Thankyou so much for making it avaliable on the internet.
Clare Vidler

Joe Mifsud said...

It's such a beautiful poem I'm never tired of reading it! The first time I read it I was near to tears. And even the song of Loreena McKennitt it's sooooooooo brilliant. I love it!

Joelle said...

It's such a beautiful poem , I'm never tired of reading it! I was close to tears the first time I read it. And even the song of Loreena McKennitt it's soooo nice.I love it!


This poem is pretty cool. I read it with my class when I was in seventh grade.

Nantahalafilm said...

Loved this poem for many, many years (up there with Tennyson's "Charge of the
Light Brigade") in adventurous romanticism. The time period is the late 18th
century. To get it right in research the King is George and that is George III
. Puts it in an in-and-around-the American Revolution time context. And if
you want to research the prototypical character here you want to research Dick
Turpin and Claude Duval . Turpin supposedly had a horse called Black Bess that
could outrun anything alive. This relates curiously to the concept of "Bess,
the landlord's black haired daughter". What would we have here? A romantic who
names his
beautiful horse after a beautiful woman? And Claude Duval, originally from
France, was considered one of the handsomest, most romantic celebrities of the
period (and a veritable
Don Juan in the budoirs of so many ladies about the countryside). Hard to
imagine that neither Errol Flynn nor Tyrone Power ever did a Claude Duval movie.
When he was finally hung, women came in droves to his funeral....all
disconsolate beyond belief. I have always thought a tongue-in-cheek film, perhaps "The
Legend of Claude Duval", wherein the execution was faked and Duval rides
again, would have been great fun.

In Noye's poem the particular highwayman here is never named , though, as I
have said, the irony of Turpin's jet black filly being name Bess is an
interesting one. In the 1951 movie "The Highwayman", the hero was a nobleman who
fought injustuce as "The Highwayman", a night-riding Robin Hood-like avenger
somewhat in the vein of the Scarlet Pimpernel. This film is rarely seen but I
remember it as being quite good. Albert ("Darby O'Gill") Sharpe was a cast member, I
know. I have wanted to say Lewis Hayward was the main character but I have
been told it was Charles Coburn. I remember it was in color and had some good
horse pursuits in it...and the rousing theme and chase music was, of all things
(if I recall correctly)
the "Gypsy Dance" from The Nutcracker!!!!!!

P R Dash said...

it is the loveliest poem i've ever read.i'm glad that i got hold of this two years after reading it.thanks a lot.

Greg Winter said...

A treasure lost then found.

I had read this poem so many years ago that I forgot who wrote it. But I’ve
always remembered the line, “the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon
cloudy seas” and always think of that when I see the moon among the clouds.

I’m pleased to have found the entire poem again so I can pass it on to my 7
year old who just now is beginning to really appreciate poetry.

Sue Witte said...

Yes, I saw this movie and I have been searching for it ever since on the web and cannot find it.

I saw an old black and white movie on TV and I swear it starred Stewart Granger as the highwayman. But I have searched the web for every Stewart Granger movie and cannot find it.

If you know of it, I would like to hear from you.

carol.dunning said...

I have just copied tis beautiful poem out for my 9 year old son who has to make a a wanted poster for the highwayman I' m sure many of the other readers are parents and feel maybe that its hard to make a 9 year old apprecite the beauty of love. when my son came form school after hearing his teacher read it he seemed to have grown up.

allen newbury said...

I listened to this performed by Phil Ochs today on a CD and was brought to tears.


I was just wondering if you could help me on something. I have a homework assignment on The Highway man. I did Alfred Noyes Biography now i need some help on finding the culture, or the history of the setting. I've been looking and i can't find a thing. If you could help me I would be very thankful. Thanks

Jonel Brown said...

I'm interested too in the TV "The Highwayman", did you ever get any answers? Also, there is a painting of the two - he stretched up on his stirrups & she leaning out the window with her hair in his hand.

Jonel Brown said...

By the way, it was during the time of King George ( easy to look up), allot of poor people around, allot of highwaymen, a revolution was just around the corner. Very bad times.

Jonel Brown said...

There is a painting for this poem which I have been searching for, try looking for that. He is at the in, rising up in his stirrups to kiss her black hair as she leans out the window.
I will help you if you will help me.

littlebear said...

What is the name of the song and which CD is it on that Loreena McKennit recorded the poem. also, could help me with her webb site co I can find out about concerts.


David Three Bears

Andrea Thorn said...

Just got back into English highwaymen after a long time away. I had a brief memory of this poem and was very glad to find it here.

Made me cry though! What a bloody emotive, powerful text!

Andrea Thorn

[broken link]

Vernon Peck said...


Would really appreciate your assistance to locate the Charles Causley
illustrations of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. Any ideas you could
pass my way? Thank You!

Vernon Peck,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Jo-Ski said...


I love the poem "The Highwayman"!

I am wondering if anyone out there has the words to another poem by Alfred Noyes, called "Music and Memory"? I have purchased both volumes of Noyes' Collected Poems, but cannot find it among them. He quoted part of this poem in his book The Unknown God, and it made me want to read everything this man had written.

Thank you for any help on this!

Blaine, WA

CAFENET said...


sandra damen said...

i love this poem...the loreena mckennitt song almost word for word....i never realized there was a tim...hmmmmmmmmmm...thank you for showing this lovely piece of literature....

sandra damen
EarthLink Revolves Around You.

Barbara Houston said...

Kids Can Press has just released a new edition of this poem. The
illustrations are quite different from the 1951 movie in which the
highwayman was so gallant and the story was so romantic and the galleon moon
was so ghostly. The new illustrations picture the highwayman on a motorcycle
in a modern setting. I notice so many have said they read the poem first in
7th grade. I think 7th graders would love this new edition.

Barbara Houston

oded said...

this poem is the BEST poem ever and I have written a play based on the
poem.if anyone would care to see I can send it as an attachment.

Naomi farhi

DAVID ROSE said...

As a poet myself. I am in awe of Alfred Noyes - the atmosphere and the almost palpable reality he creates in the Highwayman is a credit to his amazing talent. The line, 'And the road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor' is a truly beautiful and visionary piece of writing.
Darkness pervades both the poem and the song and it is beautifully tragic in it's entirety. Haunting, like a wind blowing through your soul, this poem captures the very essence of love, of loss, of times which are no more.
I cry when I hear the song - it moves me to my soul

Chambers Phillip said...

I'm trying to obtain a copy of the film starring Stewart Granger in the
1950`s can anybody HELP

cg63118 said...

This poem was great to read.It`s hard to find poems that are fun to read.The
way the words are written just shows the story.We did this poem in
class.Many didn`t enjoy it and took it for granted.I would read it anytime.It dose
tell a sad story,but it has different meanings to it.Which makes it even more

dot.parka said...

The illustrator is Charles Keeping, I think.

YoYo Mama said...

I think this poem is not about robbery it about the Irish thing he was mad about O and yer stuff in the poem has some errs I tink. Why not learn to proofreed.

I think this poem is bad though cuz she kills herself that is bad in my book of poesy. Seh shoul not kill herself that is wrong. But it was written in 1907 before he became a Catholic so I bet he was a bit of a hedonist bady back then u know runnin about naked and waht not.

I think the teenision poem is maybe as sad leerena mkenner did a tLady of Shylott rendetion to music too. I recomend listening to it. I like poems too I write a lot of poesy email if you are as preety as the Lady of Shalot and you want to be my girlfriend and ill reed u poesy.


Patricia Howell said...

The film 'The Highwayman' was made in 1951. It was in colour and stared Charles Coburn. The Highwayman was played by Alfred Noyes and Bess was played by an actress named Wanda Hendrix.
From a Fan.

Patricia Howell said...

I don't think the film version is available any longer. It was released in Australia in the late 90s and sold very quickly.
Then dissapeared without a trace. I saw the film when it was released in 1951 and never saw it again for almost 50yrs.
It stars Charles Coburn. The highwayman is played by Alfred Noyes and Bess was played by an actress called Wanda Hendrix. Contact me and see if we can get a copy made up for you.
Best - Alan

Patricia Howell said...

From Alan (Australia) - I read the poem many times in school. Then in 1951 a film version was released. I was thrilled to see the words come to life. Then, as in those days, it was gone! It was never shown on TV or released on video for nearly 5 decades until it popped up on video in the late 90s (in Australia). I think the film makers had many problems. As in the poem her hands were tied at the wrists. In the film she was tied around the waist and elbows attached to the bedpost so her hands were free to stretch onto the triger of the musket that was left by one of the guards.
The film isn't a masterpiece but underrated all the same. I wonder when a proper remake will turn up?
From a fan of poem and film
PS - The Highwayman was played by Alfred Noyes and Bess was played by an actress called Wanda Hendrix

Portshady said...

My brother and I committed this poem to memory in the early 60's. I can
still recite mosr of it. My brother is dead now, it gave me great pleasure to
read it again in it's entierty.

Martin Grant said...

The ballad of The Highwayman was also sung by a group called the Three
D's on LP album back the 1960's
There was a laso a film in the 1950"s The Highwayman starring English
actor Richard Todd in the 1950's

Sharon Inger said...

We are in English class and we just read the poem and heard Phil Ochs
sing it. The reading was better because it gave more detail and was
easier to understand. The song left out many details, such as Tim the
Waldo and Mike

Even though the poem was long, we still enjoyed all the detail and how
it was kinda scary. This is kinda weird because this is a high school
English class. There's seven of us. I'm Ethan. There are also Katie,
Mike, Doug, Waldo, Sarah, and Jarred as well. We all like this poem very

We like the way the poem combined romance and people being killed. We
listened to a song version which left out the stanza about Tim the
ostler. Doug and Jarred.

Debi and Richard Todd said...

I read this poem in 7th grade and have loved it ever since ( I am now 50).
When I first heard Lorena McKenna's song I nearly fell over. I'm so glad to
have others to share this with

Paulpolaris said...

I was 13yrs old when we read this poem at school during an English
Literature lesson. I am 60 yrs old now. In between those ages, as one's memories get
swept along with the tidal debris of life, I forgot the gist of the poem.
However, one line always stuck in my mind:
"The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas."
I was a police officer for 30yrs and whilst walking the beat on night shift,
I would often stand in a doorway on a windswept night and look up at the
beauty of the stars and the moon. That single line of poetry always came alive
in my mind and served to enhance that cosmic beauty with the romance of the
poem's cellestial description.
I am retired now, but still wanted to share that magic which I experienced
when I was 13 with young people today. Consequently, I set out to write a
novel, which ultimately evolved into "The Wild Flower Triology." Book I
"Flowers of the Gods" was published this November. Book II "Children of the Stars"
and Book III "A Bunch of Wild Flowers" are to be published early in the New
Year. The Greek mythological goddess - Artemis (goddess of the moon) with many
other gods and goddesses, and the beauty of the stars - as the hero and
heroin travel through them in their adventures, all stem back to that one line of
It is amazing how the power of one poetic sentence can bring forth the
inspiration for three novels!
Yours sincerely,
Paul Hayward

Grofler said...

omg i totally love this poem!!!

Craig Siegel said...

Hello Sitaram:

I am trying to reach Alan Howell regarding his comments on the Noyes poem,
"The Highwayman".

= = =

I am desperately trying to locate a copy of the 1951 film of The Highwayman.
I heard somewhere that a university in Ohio has a copy of the script in
their archives, but it is impossible for me to make a trip there from my
home in Oregon.

Do you actually have a copy of the film? And, if so, is it possible for me
to obtain a copy without violating copyright laws? I know that a lot of old
films are now in the public domain and I'm hoping to locate a copy of this
film. I need it for research on a similar story I am developing.



Roger & Cheryl Hofman said...

this is my favourite poem i luv u all guys luv me i luv u all go alfy
noyey baby yeee


I think that 'The Highwayman' is a really good poem I started reading it
at school because we're doing report writing
on highwaymen I would recommend this poem for anyone because it's a bit
of everything e.g. it's a bit gruesome.
i think Alfred Noyes is very clever because the pattern sequence is very
hard to do I tried it myself and
it isn't easy so thumbs up on The Highwayman'

M. H said...

Dear Teacher: I am a student teacher of English and know that this poem will spark interest in my students' for poetry. Would you care to share your teaching strategies for this poem. I would be very grateful if you would share,


Marilyn Howard

SMS Specialists said...

Sorry, no information but this is my favourite poem aswell. My Mother used to recite it us when we were children. I cannot read this poem without crying. It is so nice to find someone that loves it as much as i do.
My Mam made the whole class learn the poem word for word, they didn't like that, but I got the benefit of it, she was only 9 at the time.
Would like to hear from you soon
Best wishes
Janet Welters

SMS Specialists said...

yes, it does say darkness.
best wishes Janet

Meryl Brew said...

Memories are made of this! Today, 21 July, 06 is World Poetry Day. I have just called my local radio station to vote The Highwayman as my favourite poem even though I have not read it for forty odd years. As a romantic fifteen year old attending Calder High School for Girls in Calderstones, Liverpool, England, The Highwayman captured my imagination and stoked the fuels of romantic yearning in my schoolgirl heart.

Wthout much jogging of my memory, the first three thrilling
stanzas tripped effortlessly off my tongue - how about that for a sign of a great poet. Alfred Noyes lives!

Meryl Brew
New Zealand

Rounds Andrea said...

I, too, like Celeste Bynum, became familiar with this poem through the
World Book Encyclopedia my parents bought for us kids. I have heard The
Three D's sing a version of this poem which, although many stanzas are
left out, gives me chills each time I hear it. I'm going to have to
listen to the version by Phil Ochs and Lorena McKennit. I would love to
see the movie some of you have written about.

Andrea Rounds

Docnorth0000 said...

Just reaching out. Read your comment posted on Minstrels. That is amazing
how that one line from "The Highwayman" led you to write three books. I was also
moved that you would recite the one line when you were a policeman.


raisa carron said...

tis is da bst poem i eva red

Catherine Murray said...

September 20, 2006

I too love this poem and remember it from childhood, my mother reading it to us from a beautifully illustrated Childcraft book of Stories and Fairy Tales, I wish I still had that book, the images still haunt me, in a good way. I too love Lorena McKennit's lovely interpretation of the poem.

Catherine, Glen Ellen California

Brent Kendall said...


Thomas Ficker said...

You should check out the Andy Irvine version of this great poem. Listen
to it. It's really, really, really moving.
[broken link]

Sharon Inger said...

Here are some comments from my English class in Hyannis, MA, US

We have enjoyed the poem itself much better than the song (Phil Ochs
recording). The song left out many details from the poem. We like this
poem so much because it is very sad, mysterious, and exciting to read.
Ana and Alex

Although it is long, the poem can spook you in the right mood. The song
version by Phil Ochs was well done, but he left out Tim the ostler who
is essential to the plot because he rats out the lovers.
Charlie and Keveney

The poem/ballad was a good scary love song that shows a moral of what
some people would do for love.
McKenna and Billy

We like the singing better than the reading version of this poem. The
singing is easier to understand, and it gives us a feeling of what the
poem is like.

Bruno and Caroline

brittney&bradley jenson said...

we read this poem in class and i really love it its my favorite poem

Carol Lomas said...

I first read this poem at primary school at the age of 9 or 10. I loved it
then and still keep a copy in my desk - I'm now 56. Rick Mayall read it for
a BBC children's dramatisation; it was fantastic. It's one of the most
emotionally charged poems you could find.

Carol Lomas

Chris Lull said...

Like many who've written, I first read this poem (and loved it) at a tender age. Imagine my surprise when our choral director handed it out, set to music by someone named Deems Taylor. As with the versions mentioned in previous comments, it omits Tim the ostler. It's stirring, melodramatic music, well suited to the text! Any Highwayman fans likely to be in the Boston, Massachusetts area on May 6, 2007 should definitely check out our chorus' website for ticket info!

Chris Lull

Inga Frick said...

Is the Barbara, sister of Penny?

If so this is Inga, and I would so love to hear from you?

Craig Garone said...


I am a high school English teacher and have been doing some research on
Alfred Noyes' poem, "The Highwayman." I read one of the messages from
"Patricia Howell"

<alanhowell @>. She offers if someone would like a copy of the movie
version of "The Highwayman" ( with Charles Coburn and Wandra Hendrix) to
contact her to see about getting a copy. I would really like to have one for
my lesson.

Is it possible for you to contact her for me? I would really appreciate any
help that you can give me. This movie is just not out there for purchase

Thank you in advance for your time and effort.

Nellie Garone

Carlin Hoffacker said...

if you like this poem, check out the song by Loreena McKennitt (which you might have already heard before.) I have been listening to it almost daily.

Pearce Shantelle said...

an ostler is some1 that looks after horses i will prob tlk 2 ya soon
from shantelle at H.L.C yr 7

Debarupa De said...

I was first introduced to this poem when I was in 6th or 7th grade. It
was a love at first read. Now, at 31, as I realize that all those days
were the real golden days, I've started to collect as many things as I
can to save that priceless period at least in my mind. I've been
searching for this poem and found it on the net without much sweat. A
real gem.

wacarpenter said...

Hi, yes, My first exposure to The Highwayman was also as a child in the Film the Highwayman (1951). The film (and poem) made a lasting impression upon me (even at the tender age of 11 or so). I have been searching for a Video or DVD of this movie for many years now, but come up dry. Did you ever receive an answer to your query? If so, could you share with me if the movie is available?



wacarpenter said...

I too saw the 1951 version of "The Highwayman". I was young at the time, around 10 or 11, but the film made such an impression on me that I've never forgotten it or the poem. I have tried for years to get a copy of the film but to no avail. I would love to have a copy if you know where I can get it/order it/buy it/steal it. Unfortunately, e-mial addresses don't completely print out on the web, so hopefully someone will forward this to you (alanhowell@).

Best Regards,


Ajeer Pudiyapura said...

I had this poem as part of my 11th grade English Poetry back in India. At the age of 15, I fell in love with this poem. And today, another 15 years on, it still takes me back to the 15-year-old-in-love! What a timeless work of art!


A fantastic work which can inspire young children (10-11 years) to write as a one of the characters and learn about metaphor and imagery. They can then create art work based on the amazing monochrome award winning illustrations by Charles Keeping; OUP version reprint 1991 won the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Shelley Spencer said...

Does anyone have the parody of "The Highwayman" from Mad Magazine? It's a
hoot! I'm trying to find it.

Joe Daniels said...

This poem is fucked up! What the hell does it mean. What the hell was the author on when he wrote it? Crack? Um...I think so!

Gloria Little said...

As with many of your correspondents, my mother read this poem to me
when I was a child. However, as much as I am delighted to find this
treasure on your website, I am most disappointed that there are a few
small mistakes in the text. As I cannot find Alfred Noyes' poem on
any other site, is there any chance that the text on your website
could be corrected to the Noyes' original? I'm sure all of us would
be most appreciative.

Matthews Mark said...

Surely surely one the best poems of all time!

I remember my yr 6 teacher Mr Salisbury reciting this to us and
completely capturing my imagination.

...ah Bess the landlords daughter, eh?

But the date cannot be correct " 22 Feb 1999" is that 1899?


Mark Matthews

DebbDev said...

We read this in my english class and this is the only poem i have ever liked
in my hole intire life. I f i would never ever read this it would of never
let me learn.


am am 10 years old and have 2 do a piece of info about the highwayman i have got everything except the date and day any ideas plz help!!!

Anonymous said...

i have been looking for this poem for very long now, lost my english text book and could not remember the name of the author, but all i remembered was a guy riding a horse during the night towards a girl and her ribbon.. purple ribbon of the road, red ribbon in her hair.. ofcourse it all came back to me as i read it now.. fantastic, beautiful, haunting

Ranjani said...

It is really a beautiful poem.I got the first prize in a competition when i recited this one.I love Highwayman.......

Anonymous said...

Has this ever been made into a movie

تقنية المعلومات said...

this is the best one here i like it very much

Anonymous said...

This is a really awesome poem! :) I like it.

The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

A very good and inspiring beginning of an awesome and intriguing poem, if I may say so myself.

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Dania said...

its so good
i used to do it in skool

Anonymous said...

i think this song or poem is weird...

Mama Squirrel said...

Shelley, I have been looking for the Mad Magazine version too--I know we used to have it in a paperback Mad book, but I don't know which one. It was really funny, especially the part where the daughter was "nibbling on her nails."

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