I have always loved ballads as a child, because of the wonderful romantic dramas that came packaged in attractive rhyming stanzas. Yet according to me, out of the hundreds of ballads that I've read/heard, i guess that this is forever going to be the BEST one ever!
We had it as a part of our school text when I was in my 8th standard, and thanks to the wonderful skills of our lovely English teacher Mrs. Basu, we went on to appreciate it even more than if I'd just read it on the go! Even though its a long poem, I still remember it by heart! Later we even went on to stage a play based on the ballad, which till date remains as one of the fondest memories of my growing up years.
Noyes' use of words is so rich, that the images will stay with you for a long long time. Sample this:
"Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And 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."
Filled with elements of horror, romance and tragedy, this ballad makes for a great read on a stormy night, and will make even a confessed poetry-hater fall in love with the wonderful art form. So go ahead,look it up in Google, and read it!