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The Highwayman

The Highwayman

by Alfred Noyes

Stanza 13 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 73-74

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!

  • The speaker really draws out the highwayman's approach. We hear the sound of the hooves again and again, the only sound in the cold night.
  • He comes closer and closer, and Bess's face shines in the darkness. We're not totally sure why it's shining. Scared? Sweaty?

Lines 75-78

Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.

  • Now Bess makes her move. She opens her eyes, takes a breath, pulls the trigger, and shoots herself in the chest.
  • It's a desperate move, but she did it for love, to warn the highwayman about the waiting soldiers. She gave her life to try to save him.