by Alfred Noyes
Without a doubt the poem of my childhood. Still know it by heart and love it dearly. Only recently did I discover some illustrative work to accompany the poem.
I must say, most portrays the highwayman as a sort of pampered, boyish ideal of an overly sweet lad who seemingly doesn’t quite grasp the concept of French fashion nor that of Victorian aristocracy, so chose the worst of both closets (suprised I couldn’t find the ‘royal pimple’, as Baldrick would put it, upon the highwayman’s made-up face).
Or, the illustrations appear terribly childish in a kitsch manner. All sweet and lovely, as if the poem were a ‘and they lived happily ever after’ fairytale. Yes, I did write that it was the poem of my childhood. But I think any child would strongly object to being patronised.
Now, I stumbled upon this illustrator, Charles Keeping.
The images above are his work. I’m not sure Mr. Noyes would approve, I’m not sure I do either, but the raw, haunting feeling in each and every picture is exactly what should grip the reader near the poem’s end.
And I love the artist’s style.
Swear I remember looking at this in school. It’s one of the few things that came up when I searched “highwayman” (am I using the wrong tag or something)?
Full poem’s here: