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Bernards Heath Junior School

'Knowing Every Child'

The Highwayman - Poetic techniques

To recognise the poetic techniques in The Highwayman


1.  Rhythm, rhyme and repetition.


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon 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.


Which words rhyme at the end of each line?  If we represented this as letters we would see:

A – trees

A – seas

B – moor

C – riding

C – riding

B - door

Say this verse out loud. It cannot be read quickly. It has a rhythm. This rhythm is similar to a horse trotting. Note also that for lines labelled C the word has been repeated.


Task 1

Look at other verses of the poem. Does this rhythm, rhyme and repetition match each verse?


2.  Metaphor,  Simile and Alliteration


A metaphor describes a person or object by referring to something with similar characteristics.

The wind was a torrent of darkness

The moon was a ghostly galleon


A simile compares one thing with another and always includes the word “as” or “like”

…his hair like mouldy hay,


Alliteration occurs when the same letter or sound at the beginning of the word is repeated in adjacent or closely connected words.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed


Task 2
Look through the poem. Can you identify any other examples of metaphor, simile or alliteration?



Task 3  

To write an additional verse to 'The Highwayman' describing a ghostly meeting between Bess and the highwayman from the point of view of an eye-witness.



  • Try to stick to pattern of the poem - rhyme AABCCB, rhythm - regular
  • Try to use sense - hear, see, feel
  • Try to use some poetic techniques - simile, metaphor, alliteration,
  • Use the words of the poem to help you to create your own.  

E.G. If you were writing a final verse from the point of view of Tim the Ostler:


As I looked out of my window, one gloomy winter's night

A ghostly shadow came riding, it gave me such a fright,

He stopped beneath her window, he never glanced my way,

He loved the landlord's daughter,

  I betrayed the landlord's daughter,

I miss Bess the landlord's daughter, every second of every day.



You could begin with one of these lines:

 I looked out of the window when the moon and stars were bright,

As I looked out of my window one gloomy winter’s night,

As I looked out of my casement, I felt that time was slow,

Late one winter’s evening, when the wind was in the trees,

Note how similar they are to the original.