by _____? The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was
a ghostly galleon tossed upon clondy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the
purple moor, And the highwayman came riding-- Riding The highwayman came
riding, up to the old inn-door.
He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin, A coat of the claret
velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin. They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were
up to the thigh. And he rode with a jewelled twinkle, His pistol butt a-twinkle, His rapier
hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard, And he tapped with his
whip on the shuters, 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.
And 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 red-lipped 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 the moonlight, watch for me by the moonlight. I'll come to
thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way!
He rose 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 black cascade of perfume came
tumbling over his breast; And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, (Oh, sweet, black
waves in the moonlight!) Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, 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, looping the purple
moor, A red-coat troop came marching-- Marching King George's men came
matching, 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 at 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 tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest. They had bound a musket
beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast! "Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed
her. She heard the doomed 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, now, 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 to
attention, with the muzzle 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 of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs 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 red-coats 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 musket, drenched with her own blood! Not till the dawn he heard 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, shouting 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 on the highway.
Down like a dog on the highway, And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch
of lace at his throat.
so sick of easy fashion stand and deliver!
your money or your life!
the Walrus highwayman was posted by
-Alfred Noyes-
R Loreena McKennitt - 'The Highwayman' ('the book of secrets' album) 020728
the Walrus Alfred Noyes
The Highwayman
Published 1907
the Walrus Alfred Noyes
Born 1880
Died 1958
The Highwayman
Published 1907
phil today 020729
what's it to you?
who go