English 11

Blackout Poem – “The Highwayman”

“The Highwayman” is a narrative poem written by Alfred Noyes. This poem starts out with a highwayman visiting his girlfriend Bess at her father’s inn. He’s on the move so he only has time for one kiss. He promises that he’ll be back by the next night at the latest. The next evening, instead of the highwayman, some British soldiers show up. They tied up Bess, and then they wait at the windows to shoot the highwayman when he comes back. Then, when she hears the highwayman’s horse, she fires the gun, and gives her life to warn him about the ambush. The highwayman tries to get away, but it doesn’t work. He gets mowed down by the soldiers in the middle of the road and dies in a pool of blood. Still, on certain winter nights, his ghost still rides down the highway to meet Bess. Meanwhile, this poem uses lots of poetic devices. The first one is metaphor, for example: the poem begins with a description of the environment, as he said: “wind was a torrent of darkness, /moon was a ghostly galleon, / and road was a ribbon of moonlight” (1-3). The second one is personification. Felt like she was bound for an extensive period of time and anxious to see if lover returns. “For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride” (48). The third one is simile. Bess heard the Highwayman coming, just like the author said: “Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!” (75) The poem makes effective use of vivid imagery to describe surroundings; plus, repetitious phrases to create the sense of a horseman riding at ease through the rural darkness to a lovers’ tryst and soldiers marching down the same road to ambush him. This poem told that love is an unpredictable force that changes one’s perspective forever One may sacrifice their life to protect their loved one.

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