A number of years ago, when I was studying occupational therapy, I was hired to be the eyes and ears of a woman who lived in New York City. Her mother, Marian, was in a nursing home here in Tucson after having had a stroke that had left her paraplegic and non-verbal. As luck would have it, I was the perfect fit for this job since I had a degree in English Lit and her mother had been an avid reader.
For the most part, in addition to making sure the staff was doing well by her, my job consisted of visiting with and reading to Marian. Listening to poetry was one of her favorite pastimes, particularly poetry with rhythm. My friend Jennifer Roberson had just edited an anthology inspired by “The Highwayman” (Highwaymen: Robbers & Rogues) and Alfred Noyes‘ (1880 – 1958) famous poem became one of our favorites.
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed on 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.
. . . Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!
“The Highwayman” is a rich trove of romance, betrayal, death, and eternal love, perfect for reading aloud.