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The Highwayman

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  5,253 ratings  ·  245 reviews
In Alfred Noyes's thrilling poem, charged with drama and tension, we ride with the highwayman and recoil from the terrible fate that befalls him and his sweetheart Bess, the landlord's daughter. The vivid imagery of the writing is matched by Charles Keeping's haunting illustrations which won him the Kate Greenaway Medal. This new edition features rescanned artwork to captu ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 23rd 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1906)
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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,253 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Alfred Noyes poem was first published in 1906 and was an instant success, and it has remained a favorite for over 100 years. In the 1990's the BBC rated it 15th on their list of "The Nations Favorite Poems". Noyes got the inspiration for the poem while staying in a cottage on Bagshot Heath, then part of Windsor Forest.

"The Highwayman suggested to me one blustery night when the sound of the wind in the pines gave me the first line":

The Wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The Moon
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, macabre
This book might be the single biggest factor in my daughter's fascination with the macabre and spooky.

Seven years old now, Brontë loves anything horror. She loves to be scared, and her artwork reflects that. She draws zombies and vampires and all the girls in her pictures look like the lead actresses from any Tim Burton movie you'd like to choose.

When she was very little, just a toddler, some friends gave us The Highwayman, and it's rhythm fast made it a favourite around our house. Both Brontë
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As I am starting to write this review I am listening to "All Soul's Night" by Loreena McKennitt, which is fitting because she is the reason why I read this poem. I find it impossible to talk about this poem without talking about her. She's great; she's a bard.

I first encountered her poem on the first ablum of McKennit's I ever listened to - this was back when they were still producing tapes. I still have the tape, by the way. On her The Book of Secrets McKennitt set this poem to music and sang i
Josephine (Jo)
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful poem of heartbreak and devoted love. It was taught to me by my grandmother when I was a child. It is a favourite of mine, along with The Listeners by Walter De La Mare and The Ballad of Father Gilligan by William Butler Yeats.
Huda Aweys
It's amazing animated
To read and hear the poem ..
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It only takes a few minutes to read, but I am quite sure I will never forget this tragic poem. It's written in that old style of poetry--with meter and rhyme. It begs to be read aloud.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. Dawes
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, poetry
A chillingly beautiful poem. Tragedy awaits the roguish highwayman and his lover. This haunting poem has remained with me since primary school. Beautiful and macabre.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was lovely and I loved it.
Probably because I didn't have to analyse it in school, but with my own natural analytical skills with my sister Lena, who was the one to tell me to read this.
However, maybe lovely isn't the word, what with all the death in this (which I very much appreciated, as it took me by surprise).
It was beautiful and very creatively written and I enjoyed reading it aloud on Lena's phone while she skipped on the skipping rope in front of me, forever analysing and commenting
I've been in love with this poem since I first read it in my 7th grade English class. The terrible fate of the two lovers, Bess and her Highwayman, is so tragic. I love how the ending implies that their spirits still linger at the old Inn after death. It's a beautiful poem and a personal favorite of mine.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This version combines the classic, tragic--romantic poem with art deco 1920s style illustrations. An unusual but visually stunning and beautiful mix.
Gorgeous artwork by Mikolaycak accompanies this excellent and tragic ballad-style story by Noyes about a doomed highwayman and his girl.
Julianna Germono
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The amazing poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, is a dramatic romance about The Highwayman who is a robber that is in love with his bonny sweetheart, Bess, the landlord's daughter. But, when the highwayman leaves Bess to go rob someone, the Redcoats (King George's men) come to find the highwayman. Instead, the Redcoats use Bess as a hostage to be "bait" for the highwayman to come back. However, in the name of love, Bess takes the musket and shoots herself as a warning that the highwayman shou ...more
Huda AbuKhoti
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The poet has given an amazingly vivid picture of all the events occurring during that highwayman absence... All the little details of his love, Bess, waiting and being scared for his safety, shooting herself to warn her lover and that tragic end for both...

If not for the last lines of this poem I would have been quite upset with that painful love story. I do believe that in certain winter nights, his ghost still rides down the highway to meet Bess.

I do not believe in tragic love stories... I al
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
As a teenager, I fell in love with this poem in English Literature. My love hardened as I watched Anne of Green Gables recite the poem. The story is so romantic and sweet, I remember that I memorized most of it by heart and recited it in school theater.

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 purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding,

★ Jess
My absolute favorite poem of all time. It is written incredibly well, full of remarkable imagery and an utterly heartbreaking plot. Its a quick read, but I will never forget this stunning piece of work.
Tell me this is not the greatest stanza written in the english language:

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-
Phoebe Ledster
I’m shocked that it’s taken me so long to finally read ‘The Highwayman’! I found the storyline to be excellent and the illustrations are extremely dramatic and haunting. The combination of Noyes’ exhilarating rhymes and Keeping’s eerie illustrations are breathtaking and I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time to read this poem. I would find it really interesting to see what children think of this poem (and the illustrations) in the classroom. Also, I think it would be an excellent stimulus for child ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Summary:The Highwayman was more of a dramatic romance story about 2 people such as the Highwayman and Bess sacrificing their lives trying to save each other. Tim was most likely jealous so he told the redcoats about the highwayman since he wanted Bess all to himself. Sadly, he didn't know Bess would die too.

Believable Characters:The characters seem very real because they have real emotions. They just seem very real.

Appearance:I imagined the highwayman as a tall man with blond hair with a blond m
Anna Ranario
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Highwayman is written by Alfred Noyes. This story is written as a poem and is a mixture of drama, romance, and violence. The Highwayman takes place around the 1800s and is about how a highwayman loves Bess, and how it goes down hill when the redcoats comes for him and Bess.
The main characters in this story is the Highwayman and Bess. Some minor characters are the red coats and Tim the ostler. The characters in the book seem very realistic to me. In my mind, I see the Highwayman has a very
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman" illustrated by Murray Kimber as part of the Visions in Poetry series.

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart,
I’m after a prize to-night,
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.”

(One thing I don't like about the Visions in Poetry series is that they change the spacing of
The Highwayman has a girlfriend called Bess who, while the highwayman is off committing his robberies is tied up and used as bait to catch him. How will she warn him?

Fantastic for teaching metaphors and similes. The story line had really hooked the children in my class (low ability ks3/upper ks2)
lots of resources including a fantastic comic of the final stanza which shows the moon upon clouds when using metaphors to describe this.
even in the EDP the children who had been to previous schools
Ellie Labbett
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A tragic narrative poem telling the story of two lovers, Bess and the Highwayman, and, I would have to say, one of the top poems that I have ever read in terms of tension and atmosphere. Noye's writing is so evocative, completely immersing the reader in danger, inevitability and urgency, which would be further brought to life through some dramatic retellings and performances. The deeper that I dug into this poem, the more I uncovered, and exploration and discussion of this poem with children cou ...more
Kier (Myn Kobayashi)
I loved this poem when I first read it, and every time since. It is lovely and poetic.

It tells the story of a Highway Man and his love and the adventure that ensues.

Definitely work a read :)
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this story. The ending gave me chills because of how amazing their love story is.
Jane Scholey
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Beautifully illustrated. I’ve used this with all of my y5 and 6 classes. Loved by all. Great for drama.
Becky Sparkes
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very effective poem to use with a upper KS2 class. This poem is set in 18th century rural England. It tells the story of a Highwayman who is in love with Bess. Tim the ostler betrays the highwayman and tells the authorities. However Bess sacrifices her life to warn the Highwayman.
This poem could be used to link to an English topic about writing newspaper articles.
This topic could start with some hot seating where they interview eyewitnesses about the events from the poem.
They can th
Sierra Holman
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Somewhere in England or the England colonies, a robber called the Highwayman comes to see the landlord's black eyed daughter, at the inn. He tells her that he will be back by moonlight with gold and treasure, "though hell should bar the way." The creepy ostler,Tim listened jealously, because he too loved the landlord's daughter named, Bess. As soon as the Highwayman kissed Bess's hair goodbye, he once again rode off into the moonlit plain. Awhile after, red-coats came marching right up to the in ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is one of the greatest poems I have ever read. It starts off with the highwayman riding down the road, a "ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor", towards the old inn door. There he taps the shutters with his whip, but it it barred. He then whistles a tune and Bess, the landlords daughter is there. She falls in love with him, and he promises to return from his robbing the next morning, but if the redcoats harry him, he shal return by midnight. All of this was hea ...more
Robert  Nochez
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is an awesome poem that is weird at first, but once you understand it, you can see why it is truly a work of art. The whole poem is about a beautiful couple, the Highwayman and Bess. The Highwayman has gone on a run to steal, and has left Bess all alone in her Dad's property. While gone, the red coats have came due to Tim telling them about where the Highwayman lives. He did this, since he secretly loves Bess. When the red coats raided their home, Bess makes a sacr ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Highwayman is a great story about a highwayman who is in love with a woman, Bess. When the highwayman goes out to rob people, he promises he will be back by the moonlight. Tim the ostler listens to the highwayman in the sheds and orders red coats to get ride of him so he can be with his love,Bess, the landlords red lipped daughter. But, that turns out bad for Tim. It takes place in the 1700's although it was written in the 1900's. The characters in the book are very believable, although it g ...more
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Alfred Noyes was the son of Alfred and Amelia Adams Noyes. His father was a teacher and taught Latin and Greek and in Aberystwyth, Wales. In 1898, Alfred attended Exeter College in Oxford. Though he failed to earn a degree, the young poet published his first collection of poetry, The Loom of Years, in 1902.

Between 1903 and 1908, Noyes published five volumes of poetry including The Forest of Wild T
“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--
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.”
“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 purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.”
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