I remember sitting in seventh grade English one warm autumn day as the teacher picked up the dogeared old text, flipped a page or two and then began to read aloud. It was a hard audience, right before lunch, and the students were slumped in seats or holding pencils over paper in anticipation of note taking.
Yet, as he read...the heat of the day fell away. The sun drenched institutional classroom became a dark landscape with a moon riding overhead. Our breathing quickened in time with the horses steps as a lover sped to a meeting and anxiety built in time with the frantic praying for safety in a young maid's breast. As the words rolled off the teacher's tongue we were transported to a far away place of romance and mystery...
"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—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door."
The evocative cadence and mood of the poem coupled with the reading quality made the poem an instant favorite. Alfred Noyes "The Highway Man" stands as one of the most mystical and romantic of poems I have ever heard. There is a pulse that runs through it as strong as a lover's heart beat and an echo of horses hooves carrying fate to its destination.
To this moment, a moonlight landscape can still evoke that memory. Then I swear I can hear the sound of distant horses hooves...riding, riding...

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