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Weekly poetry thread.

Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Nov 15 2012, 1:28pm

Post #1 of 9 (316 views)
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Weekly poetry thread. Can't Post

This week I decided to post what I think is the longest poem I've ever memorized (with the possible exceptions of some ballads like Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin). I first ran across this poem in an English book in junior high, and at age 14 was hooked by its drama. I memorized it not long afterward.

I pulled it out of my memory recently; after hiking, I'm often the one to drive home, while Uncle Baggins snoozes, and I started reciting this poem to myself to keep awake in the canyon. I got to thinking it would be more fun to sing it, but the tune I found online didn't feel that singable, so I wrote my own. (I sing Part I in that clip. Since I was singing from memory, I got a little muddled in verse 6 and started that verse over instead of beginning from scratch, since it's 6AM and I have to get to work. My singing voice isn't very good, but you can get the idea of the tune.) I'm not sure I like singing it more than just reciting it; I've known it as a poem for so long. I have a picture book, but I wish I had the illustrations from that old English book where it first grabbed me.


The Highwayman
By Alfred Noyes
PART ONE

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—
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 jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
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.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked.
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

“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.”

He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

PART TWO

He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
Marching—marching—
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead.
But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light.
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned. He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.
Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

. . .

And still of 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 ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
Riding—riding—
A 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.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Nov 15 2012, 1:33pm)


wendy woo
Rivendell


Nov 16 2012, 3:04am

Post #2 of 9 (154 views)
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Great choice, Aunt Dora! [In reply to] Can't Post

It's got such atmosphere. And so tragic. I used to hear that poem quite a bit in high school when our school used to send students every year to a multi-school fine arts competition. Among the competitions for extemporaneous writing and speaking they also would allow poetry recitations. "The Highwayman" was very popular as well as "The Ballad of the Harp Weaver".

I've got kind of a funny one today. I don't even know what made me think of it. Maybe it comes from reading The Vicar of Wakefield recently.

An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog
by Oliver Goldsmith


Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,--
It cannot hold you long.

In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say
That still a godly race he ran,--
Whene'er he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,--
When he put on his clothes.

And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.

The dog and man at first were friends,
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad, and bit the man.

Around from all the neighboring streets,
The wondering neighbors ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits
To bite so good a man.

The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they lied;
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was who died.

You'll see that in every contract. It's called a "sanity clause".
Ha-ha. You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Claus.


Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Nov 16 2012, 3:27am

Post #3 of 9 (128 views)
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I will forever associate this with the Anne of Green Gables mini-series. =) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

**********************************


NABOUF
Not a TORns*b!
Certified Curmudgeon
Knitting Knerd
NARF: NWtS Chapter Member since June 17,2011


wendy woo
Rivendell


Nov 16 2012, 3:29am

Post #4 of 9 (139 views)
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Along with Tennyson's The Lady of Shalot. [In reply to] Can't Post

 

You'll see that in every contract. It's called a "sanity clause".
Ha-ha. You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Claus.

(This post was edited by wendy woo on Nov 16 2012, 3:31am)


silneldor
Half-elven


Nov 16 2012, 6:33am

Post #5 of 9 (141 views)
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I can beat that. [In reply to] Can't Post

Last night I dreamed saw
the planet flicker.
Great forests fell like buffalo.
Everything got sicker.
And to the bitter end
big business bickered....

Told ya :-P

Defending Middle-Earth
Tolkien: Myth and Modernity
Header for chapter 3- 'Middle-Earth: Nature and Ecology
Patrick Curry

Wink

I memorized Sonnet 29 once.















Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Nov 16 2012, 1:08pm

Post #6 of 9 (166 views)
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Hee! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's great :-D It reminds me a bit of this old music-hall song:


The Famous Pig Song
(Clarke Van Ness, music by F. Henri Klickmann)

'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Thanks for reminding me of the Harp Weaver. I'll post that nearer to Christmas if someone else doesn't first. Johnny Cash did a very moving version of that.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Ciars
Rohan


Nov 17 2012, 8:44am

Post #7 of 9 (160 views)
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A great poem [In reply to] Can't Post

I can remember The Highway man from school! I've chosen a Kipling poem this week, one that always makes me think about how the past can be changed, hidden and altered without anyone realising. I like the idea that the past is always present even if we do not know it, kind of like past memories imprinted on places or ghostly spirits returning to places they were connected to watching the present and almost shaking their heads at changes!

The Way through the Woods

THEY shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Nov 17 2012, 3:33pm

Post #8 of 9 (175 views)
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Wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

I love that. It reminds me of so many places in the mountains around here. There's a place we call Grandfather Bridge, where my family has been scattering the ashes of our dead for 60 years. Sixty years ago it was a highway bridge; my mother and her mother were on their way up into the park to scatter her father's ashes, and the road was closed by snow, so they stopped there. But fifty years ago the park moved the road and the entrance, and the old road became a footpath, and the highway bridge was replaced by a footbridge. Trees have grown up in the path since then, and it's not used much even by foot.

I'm also reminded of the old railroad grades my husband likes to hunt up. We've gone walking on places where the trains used to run in the mountains a hundred years ago. Now you can only recognize them because there's a strangely level place along a hillside, and an occasional rusted railroad spike. Here's an example of a place we went this fall. You can see remnants of the old trestle.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Nov 17 2012, 3:34pm)


Ciars
Rohan


Nov 17 2012, 5:18pm

Post #9 of 9 (246 views)
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Great photos! [In reply to] Can't Post

That's the perfect match to the poem, what a lovely tradition and what a coincidence that the land has a hidden past!

 
 

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