Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alfred Noyes' Highwayman

A lot of people I have talked to about my book have mentioned the famous poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. I've also noticed that several novels have been based off of it as well. Personally, while I like the poem, especially the visionary in it, thought it was rather sad and dour for a highwayman story. While a lot of highwaymen stories end with the hero getting hanged or something, this one ended particularly badly for everyone. However, I did take a few things from it for my book like the fact that Kilroy is always going to Sylvia's window at night, I took from the verse:

He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyes daughter,
Bess the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

My favorite verses are the first two though, and the highwayman's outfit described in the poem, was a large base for Kilroy's.

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
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 jeweled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

As I said before, you can see the lovely descriptions in this poem which was what won me. Even though the poem was pretty sad. But hey, at least his lass actually tried to save him and didn't hand him in like in another famous highwayman song from Ireland "Whisky in the Jar":

I went up to me chamber,
All for to take a slumber, 
I dreamt of gold and jewels and sure it was no wonder
For Jenny drew me charges
And she filled them up with water
Then sent for Captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter.

Yah, Kilroy was lucky to have Sylvia ;) 

But I'm probably going to take a couple more elements out of this poem to use in my second book, though I promise there will be a good ending to it....well, I shouldn't say anything more, I suppose :)

In the meantime, if you wish to hear a lovely version of this poem turned into song, here's a link to a version sung by Loreena Mckennitt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teq2m0BN-Wo

So until I post something else, I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and hope to see you all again soon!

Slainte, Hazel

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