Literature / The Highwayman

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.
—The opening lines.

Written by Alfred Noyes in 1906, The Highwayman is a poem about, well, a highwayman who is in love with a landlord's daughter in 18th-Century England and is betrayed to the authorities by the ostlernote  while out robbing. It ends badly.

The poem has remained popular through the years, and was in 1995 voted 15th in the poll for England's favourite poems. Loreena McKennitt has also sung a musical version omitting some verses.

Tropes in this ballad: