“The Highwayman” – Alfred Noyes: Wind metaphor and mood

Throughout the poem, there is a wind metaphor that is subtly placed in there. Did you notice it?
Like the wind, the poem settles down now and then; this is to present a calm, peaceful atmosphere. This mood does not last for long – suddenly the poem will pick up the pace and ‘blow’ again, creating a sense of excitement and urgency.
This metaphor is made obvious by the following words/sentences:

  • “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees”: Provides an introduction to the poem and makes the wind significant. The wind is turbulent and gives the reader a feeling of unrest. Also hints at the dark nature of the following poem.
  • “Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed”: The wind is picking up and becoming strong
  • “Dark in the old inn-yard a stable wicket creaked”: The wind has calmed and become eerily quiet. Represents ‘the calm before the storm’. Calm mood lulls the reader into an unsuspecting state of mind so the drama which unfolds later on is a  major shock to the reader.
  • “Nearer he came and  nearer”: Once again, the wind is brewing and the reader anticipates an important event

This ‘wind’  makes the poem seem rushing, eerie, unsettling, dark, mysterious, suspenseful and even fearful.


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