Friday, April 13, 2007

Singing Poetry

There are a few favourite old ballads I enjoy; one is Alfred Noyes' The Highwayman. I know it's a bit clichéd, but, I still like it. I appreciate the images evoked for me by his words, and also the inspiration it has given to others, to musicians like Loreena McKennitt. She does a haunting version of The Highwayman, so much so that I find it difficult to read the poem now without feeling her rhythms overlaid. She is astonishing; sample a bit of her version here.

The Highwayman starts like this:

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...

It is an intensely romantic love story, and a perfect one to recite on a ghostly night. To read it all, go the this Poem of the Week site.

*If you are so inclined, there is even an animated "music video" of the poem, set to Loreena McKennitt's music.


  1. Oh, this is one of my favorites, also, and Loreena's version has taken over in my mind, too. She sings "down like a dog on the highway" and the picture is so, so vivid!

  2. Teabird - Loreena is amazing. When she sings "back he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky" it always gives me shivers. Glad you know this one too.


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