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Image and info…Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Noyes


A Friday-night poem to enjoy!

Alfred Noyes (September 16, 1880 – June 28, 1958) was an English poet, best known for his ballads The Highwayman (1906) and The Barrel Organ.

Born in Wolverhampton, England, he was the son of Alfred and Amelia Adams Noyes. Noyes attended Exeter College, Oxford, leaving before he had earned a degree.

At 21 years of age, he published his first collection of poems, The Loom Years. From 1903 to 1908, Noyes published five volumes of poetry books, including The Forest of Wild Thyme and The Flower of Old Japan and Other Poems.

In 1907, he married Garnett Daniels. He was given the opportunity to teach English literature at Princeton University, where he taught from 1914 until 1923. Noyes’ wife died in 1926, resulting in his conversion to Roman Catholicism. He wrote about his conversion in The Unknown God, published in 1934.

Noyes later married Mary Angela Mayne Weld-Blundell, from an old recusant Catholic family from Ince Blundell in Lancashire. They settled at Lisle Combe, near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and had three children: Hugh, Veronica, and Margaret. His younger daughter married Michael Nolan (later Lord Nolan) in 1953.

He later started dictating his work as a result of increasing blindness. In 1953, his autobiography, Two Worlds for Memory, was published.

Noyes died at the age of 77 and was buried on the Isle of Wight. He authored around sixty books, including poetry volumes, novels, and short stories.

During the next five years, Noyes published five additional volumes of poetry, including Poems (1904). One of Noyes’ most ambitious works, Drake: An English Epic, was first published in 1906. The twelve-book, two hundred page epic is thought to be too long by some critics, but nonetheless, an impressive example of Noyes’ talent and creativity. Arguably Noyes’ most beloved poem, The Highwayman, was published in Forty singing seamen and other poems in 1907.

Noyes spent much of the Second World War in North America, returning to Great Britain in 1949. Two Worlds For Memory, in which he described his life between America and Great Britain, was published in 1953. He published his last volume of poems in 1956, A Letter to Lucian, and his last book in 1957, The Accusing Ghost, or Justice for Casement. (During the First World War Noyes, while engaging in propaganda work for the British government, publicly alleged that the recently-exexcuted Irish Nationalist Roger casement had been a homosexual. After WB Yeats published a poem on Casement in the 1930s attacking Noyes by name, Noyes announced that he now believed the diaries cited as evidence of Casement’s homosexuality were forged. THE ACCUSING GHOST argues this case. The diaries were not then available to the public; they were released after Noyes’ death and most (though not all) commentators now believe them to be genuine.)On 25 June 1958, Alfred Noyes died on the Isle of Wight and was buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Freshwater.”

 

 

The Highwayman a poem by Alfred Noyes

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
Riding 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
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 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
Riding 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
Riding 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.

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