Poetry Breakdown

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Highway Man by Alfredo Noyes

Born in England, Alfred Noyes is a popular poet from the turn of the century. Born in 1880, he died in 1958. In those 78 years, he had three children and steady work life. His father was a grocer and teacher. From a modest home, he studied the Latins and Greek at Oxford University.

One of his popular, surviving poems is the Highway Man. Strong leanings towards religion, it is a playful poem. With a romantic them, there is a heart to his poetry that is easily read without christian knowledge. It is also firmly based in the English tradition.

Previous to the invasion by Romans and Normans, there are a long series of stories to warn of danger to the community. The story of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is useful in explaining the habits of supernatural entities.

Beginning the story with common metaphors, the wind is a message spread across the land. The moon foretells of the witching hour. The road is the path we travel. This creates a summary of the events to unfold during the story.

A strong opening stanza is important in writing. While not as common in poetry, yet it makes a nice opening to explain the poem is about a tale of betrayal, a common story to warn everyone of danger. People are people, yet there is a strong statement they are possessed with other-world forces.

The symbolism through color association builds the true meaning of the poems. Purple and gold are a reference to high stature. White, red, black and pale are references to the four horsemen.

"The road was a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor." When deciphering this line, it states the story contains witch craft affecting nobility.

The main characters contain features of the horsemen, except for, the soon to be highway man.

"A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin." Claret has an association with wine. During this time, the popular variety was yellow. Yellow is golden in color. The use of gold through the poem references the qualities of the Holy Spirit.

The main character, Bess, is repeatedly described in colors of black and red. She has black eyes and black hair. She has red lips and a red ribbon in her hair. Black representing famine. She is thin. Red the color of war. She is a temptress who is combative.

Tim is her lover. He a white face and moldy hair. White references the conqueror and moldy or ashen hair represents death. With our characters given attributes, it is a play of the four horsemen interacting with humans in another daily situation.

While seeming like a tale of passionate lovers, it is a tale of failures in humanity and brutal punishment. The characters resurrect as ghosts to forewarn against giving into the temptations of the four horsemen: conquer, war, famine and death. Death being the mightiest of all, there is a looming of regret. Tim gains fear from all of his countrymen. Though able to tame one foe, evil is revealed to everyone.

Quirky Book Review
The Highway Man by Craig Johnson

Related Article
The Shield and Sword
Traditional Highway Man

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There are many interpretations to this poem. I believe it is an invitation to find faith when dealing with problems. English poetry is not only functional as poetry; it is a philosophical discussion about current life and opinions about society during the lifespan of the Poet.

There were many changes to society during the eighteenth century. Religions were no longer as popular. There were many thoughts about dogma and religious practices. Several people became agnostic. Intellectual challenges to explain why life works without the presence of Supernatural Deities was an epic conquest that unraveled everyone's sense of well-being.

With a majority in favor of living conservatively and according to religion, a minority made decisions without as much concern about "Hell." Coleridge is one of the Individuals who experimented with the cause and effect of life that is less dogmatic. Oddly, he has a negative attitude towards Agnostics. He might be sarcastic towards the Conservative Majority.

Beneath the lightening and the moon
The dead men gave a groan.

Lightening signifies God. Seeing the moon, there is no overcast. After the Mariner realizes his mistake of placing faith in a bird, he is also apologetic for harming any creature. When completing the challenges of understanding how to be a better person, Ghosts appear to him and save his soul. Though agnostic in life, after death, they have seen God. The Ancient Mariner becomes worthy of saving.

There are many false ideals throughout the poem. The Mariner struggles with the ideas of God and Faith. At first, he resolves the albatross is not responsible for winds or being thrown off course to a winter climate. The Crew withers and dies after crying out to God and attempts to renew faith.

The Crew reappear to save him after realizing it was foolish to harm any off God's Creatures, even animals, without reason. The Albatross is not food or threatening to them. He shot it without reason. When realizing this the Ancient Mariner was saved after a sincere apology and hope his blood would be washed from him.

There are multiple plot-lines. There is the issue of idolatry and an issue of humanity. The Mariner might represent Job. He is mostly a representative of someone who acted carelessly around people until undergoing substantial suffering. After suffering, though facing death, he realizes harming the innocent, friendly or inconsequential is horrible. This sentiment adorns the life of Christ.

Christ is represented by the Albatross. Foolish concerns of a rebellion in Israel made a Poor Rabbi infamous. They did not see the foretelling of radial events and misfortune. This is similar to inquisitions and burning Witches. They began a series of torments when making enemies with anyone who is not a Friend.

The Ancient Mariner is not God or Christ. He is an Old Man who wants to tell his terrifying realization. He is called a Prophet by the Wedding Party. It is a mocking statement. There are misconceptions about life and Christian ideals of living well. It is a ongoing challenge to find answers to logical problems through spirituality.

Quirky Books
Coleridge's Ancient Mariner Editor Ellen Garrigues