Friday, April 26, 2013

Alfred Noyes “The Highwayman”

Alfred Noyes “The Highwayman”
An erasure poem by David C. Price

The wind was a torrent among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghost
The road was a ribbon
And the highwayman came riding up to the old inn-door.

He'd a cock on his forehead, lace at his chin,
A coat and breeches of skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle:
And his butts a-twinkle, His rapier hilt a-twinkle.

He clattered and clashed in the yard,
And he tapped on the bar;
He whistled a tune to the black-eyed daughter,
Plaiting a love-knot into her long black hair.

"One kiss, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back before the light;
Yet, if they press me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight."

He rose upright in her hand,
His face burnt like a brand
As the black of his breast;
Then he galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the moon,
A red-coat troop came marching—
George's men marching, up the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord,
But they gagged her foot;
They had tied her with jest;
They had bound a barrel beneath her breast!

She twisted her behind!
She writhed her fingers!
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched her!

Up, she stood up to attention
She would not lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood throbbed to her love's refrain.

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Down over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
The red-coats looked straight and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty night!
Nearer he came like a light!
Her eyes grew one deep breath,
Then her finger moved her breast.

He turned; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head drenched
Not till he heard Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight.

Back, he spurred to the sky,
With the road brandished high!
When he lay on the highway,
With the lace at his throat.

When the wind is in the trees,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clangs in the yard;
He taps on the bar;
He whistles to Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a love-knot into her long black hair.

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