You are on page 1of 2

As with most poetry, the English poet Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman"

displays numerous examples of metaphors and similes, the latter being

distinguished by the use of the words "like" or "as" in drawing comparisons
between two unrelated objects or concepts. Metaphors, in particular, are
simple to identify in Noyes's poem, which tells the tragic story of love
interrupted by jealousy, tyranny and terror. With such a theme as Noyes
employs in "The Highwayman," the comparisons he uses cover a range of

Examples of metaphors occur in the opening stanza of "The Highwayman,"

as Noyes establishes the tone from which to relate the story of love
between the titular figure and Bess, "the landlords black-eyed daughter:"

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.
So, right from the start, we have three metaphors: comparing the wind to "a
torrent of darkness," the moon to "a ghostly galleon," and the road to "a
ribbon of moonlight." Another metaphor occurs in the fourth stanza in a line
that also includes a simile: "His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like
mouldy hay." This reference to Tim, the "ostler," or stablehand, compares
this jealously-driven figure's eyes (he, as with the highwayman, is in love
with Bess) to "hollows of madness." Employing a simile, Noyes next
compares Tim's hair to "mouldy hay," the use of the word "like" signifying
that this comparison involves a simile rather than a metaphor (the
distinction being very subtle).

A second simile occurs in that same stanza, again referring to Tim, when
the narrator describes this lowly figure as eavesdropping on the
highwayman: "Dumb as a dog he listened." Again, the use of the word "as"
in drawing the comparison between Tim and a canine marks this as an
example of a simile rather than a metaphor.

The requested two similes have been identified, but a third occurs in the
final stanza of Part I of "The Highwayman:"
He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand.
The simile here is the phrase "his face burnt like a brand," as, again, "like"
is used to draw a comparison between "face" and the iron tool heated to
very high temperatures and used to "brand" or mark an animal, identifying
the animal with a particular ranch or farm.
Figure of speech