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Analysis of ‘The Highwayman’

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This poem is called ‘The Highwayman’ and was written by Alfred Noyes. This particular poem is superb. This is because it engulfs lots of poetic skills and gets the reader to go through many emotions. ‘The Highwayman’ is a narrative poem because it is read by the reader and instead of one of the characters. I think this gives the characters an even spread throughout the poem. I would of thought that this poem is set in the 16th-17th centuries. I think this because the highwaymen were about in these centuries.

The start of the poem consists of three metaphors. A metaphor is when two words are compared to one another without using the words as, like. The three metaphors are

‘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 p cloudy urple moor’

I love these metaphors as they are so true.My favourite is ‘The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas’ as I have thought that in my head before when I have seen the moon. All these metaphors set off the poem interestingly.

There are many characters in ‘The Highwayman’ who are all described differently. Obviously the main character is The Highwayman who is described as wearing:

‘He had a cocked hat on his forehead’

‘A coat of claret velvet and breeches of doe brown skin’

This makes me think he is a hero and not a villain, because he is well dressed and obviously quite flirtatious. He also sounds very rich with all those expensive clothes on him.

Another character is Bess, the Highwayman’s fianc�. She has black hair and black eyes. Through the poem her description is repeated many times. It says she is ‘platting a love-knot through her long black hair’ this is brilliant as it puts a very clear picture in my head of her sitting by the window platting her long black hair.

These two characters are clearly I deep love, this makes the poem very sexy and like Romeo + Juliet.

The third character is the Ostler in the old inn called Tim. He has a soft spot for Bess, which definitely gives the poem a bit of a Jerry Springer taste to it. He is only described briefly as having ‘hair like mouldy hay’ this gives me the image of him being a scarecrow like in the Wizard of Oz. I can picture bits of fluff and dirt in his hair it could also be thick and matted. Even that he is briefly described he also plays a key point in the poem. That is when he tells the king and his guards that the highwayman is in the old inn and that he needs to be killed.

The setting for the poem is an old inn. Which I imagine to be in the suburbs of a village with a distinctive cobble path leading to it. I think this because in the third paragraph it describes the noise of the highwayman as ‘over the cobbles he crashed’. I’m not so sure about crashed, as it does not sound right for cobbles. Because of this perfect setting, I think the two characters are described better and link better. Alfred Noyes has used Onomatopoeia very well in this poem. Onomatopoeia is when sounds sound like the way they are said .He describes the horse’s noise as T-lot T-lot which sounds the same as it is said.

The poem has a unhappy ending as both the Highwayman and Bess get shot. Even that it is a sad ending I still think this is good as it fits into the poems storyline. The whole poem is held together by the fantastic rhythm in the poem and the use of the repetition helps to make the rhythm more fluent. If a poem does not have rhythm, it does not read as well. I believe ‘The Highwayman’ has just the right rhythm for its kind of story.

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