Cee’s Black and White Challenge: “The moon was a ghostly galleon…”

Posted: June 11, 2015 in Cee's Photo Challenges
Tags: , , , , , ,

The orange Childcraft books we owned when I was a child (some volumes of which I still own) had several volumes of poetry.  One of my favorite poems, then and now, was Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman” (the poem follows the photo.)  The opening verse contains the line, “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon stormy seas.”  That phrase came to mind when I saw this photo that I took from a dark room at night.  The abstract of the moon, naturally B&W, came about because my hands couldn’t hold the camera still when the shutter took so long to close.  Fortunately, I liked the way it turned out and since Cee’s allowing us to choose our own theme for her Black and White Challenge this week, I offer it for your viewing pleasure!

DSC_0026-003

  Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

                                   The Highwayman

PART ONE

I

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.

II

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.

III

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

IV

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—

V

“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.”

VI

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i’ 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,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

PART TWO

I

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ 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 matching, up to the old inn-door.

II

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.

III

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
“Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her.
She heard the dead 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!

IV

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!

V

The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel 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 .

VI

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs 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!

VII

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.

VIII

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 red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, 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.

IX

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i’ 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 the bunch of lace at his throat.

*           *           *           *           *           *

X

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.

XI

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.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Su Leslie says:

    Very cool image Janet; and I can see how Noyes ‘Highwayman’ popped into your head. We learned it at school, and it’s one of the few poems that’s stuck in my mind. Have a great weekend, Su.

  2. Olga says:

    Wow! Very striking, flowing form.

  3. Nice photo, very ethereal. Ω

  4. iheart11 says:

    Love, love , love this photograph! Also, “The Highwayman” is one of the first poems I remember from childhood, and I love the first verse! Very creative to create a challenge based on this verse!

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I ended up taking more photos while moving the camera intentionally. 🙂 I’m so happy you like the photo and poem. Thanks for the visit and comment!

      janet

  5. Beautiful picture 🙂 I love this poem too, though it still makes me teary eyed to read it

  6. And by the way, if you love this poem, take a moment to listen to Loreena’s Mckennit’s version of it. It is absolutely breathtaking

  7. nowathome says:

    love it, love it, love it!!! What a great image!

  8. It’s a great poem and that phrase is exactly what it is… I watched the photo, read the phrase and thought: YES!

  9. Very cool image. Love it. I remember this poem from school.

  10. Dear Janet,

    I was going to ask if you’d heard the Loreena McKennitt version but I see someone beat me to it.

    Unusual photo, but you do have a way with the camera.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Rochelle, the camera had its way with me on this one. I just couldn’t hold it steady. But I decided I liked the effect and kept it. Have a marvelous day, filled with fun and healing.

      janet

  11. Madhu says:

    A fabulously creative image Janet! And perfectly paired with that poem.

  12. Cee Neuner says:

    Marvelous entry Janet and quite creative.

  13. Indira says:

    The photograph is marvelous.

  14. jpeggytaylor says:

    An amazing image and a great match for Noyes’ poem.

  15. Lynne Ayers says:

    what a glorious happenstance!

  16. Hannah says:

    Hey Janet, this is such a stunningly unique photograph! 🙂

  17. […] Fog The Highwayman When the Frost is on the Punkin A Ballad of […]

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, that or the other thing.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s