The Highwayman

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Poetry has been called the best words in the best order. The Highwayman deserves to win the title of “The best words in the best order” because of various compelling messages, themes and an assortment of stimulating language techniques, and vivid descriptions. The Highwayman is a ballad written by Alfred Noyes, a tale of Revenge, betrayal, forbidden love, courage, and moreover selfless sacrifice.

It shows that LOVE can overcome any barrier, for example, we know that “The Highwayman” is a common robber and thief, but no matter what kind of person he was, he was loved by “Bess, the landlord’s daughter”, two different people, with different backgrounds and stories, are united by love. There is another example of love in the poem. Tim the ostler’s twisted love, Stanza 4 – 6-7, “But he loved the landlord’s daughter, the landlord’s red lipped daughter. ” This also shows that love can make people try the most desperate measures to try and gain it.

The highwayman is also a sad example of betrayal. In stanza 5, lines 1-9, it shows Tim, so desperate that he eavesdropped on the conversation between Bess and the Highwayman, and he betrayed him to King George’s men; Stanza 7, lines 9-10 “King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn door. ” and continued in Stanza 8 verse 3-4 “they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her bed. ” Even in betrayal, love triumphs, stanza 13 v 7-9, “her musket shattered the moonlight, shattered her breast in the moonlight, and warned him- with her death. Revenge is the last, and the strongest theme. After his beloved’s death, at the hands of the “red coat trooper”, the poem described how he “slowly blanched to hear, how Bess the landlord’s daughter, died in the darkness there. Stanza 14 verses 7-8, 10. Then he returned with a vengeance, “back he spurred like a madman” Stanza 15 verse 1. The attempt at revenge was futile, ending with his death. But the act was courageous, showing that people will do anything for love. In this poem, colour symbolism and imagery are greatly used.

For example, the moon being a motif of death, and maintaining the theme of darkness throughout the whole story; the moon is referred to in line 1, stanza 1, “the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas”,”watch for me by moonlight” stanza 5, line 7, where moonlight is repeated, to explain when the highwayman hopes to meet Bess, because it is so dangerous being seen together in public. “Her musket shattered in the moonlight, shattered her breast in the moonlight. ” This is when, during the night, Bess takes her own life, symbolising death.

Many language techniques are used in the poem. Alliterations, “ghostly galleon” describing the moon, is an alliterative metaphor, combining alliteration with a metaphor. Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed, describes how fast he was riding to see Bess. Descriptive metaphors and similes are used, when describing Tim the ostler, his eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay, describes how dilapidated he looked, and his sheer desperation. When King George’s men shot the Highwayman, “down like a dog on the highway”, they killed him, mercilessly.

Assonance is used when describing how the Highwayman’s clothes fitted; “They fitted with never a wrinkle. ” Anaphora is used also when- “He did not come”, (The Highwayman) did not come in the morning, nor did he come at noon, when Bess was expecting him, but he came later. Finally, Onomatopoeia is used to describe the sound of the horse’s feet on the cobbles. Used to describe how fast the Highwayman galloped in order to see Bess, his beloved. The Highwayman deserves to win, and I sincerely hope that I have convinced you, the judges, of the eligibility of the Highwayman for the title of “The Best words in the Best order. ” Thank you.

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