28 November 2022

Music Monday: A Bit of Heartbreak, after a Win

 First things first, I finished Nanowrimo this weekend. The lucky thing about having it in November is that there is a holiday in there that sees me off work and full of cheese, wandering about and asking what day it is...and with plenty of time to write. The manuscript isn't done but I can slow my pace a bit.

Now, that said, the story is turning out to be a lot darker than I'd originally thought, and with that darkness comes me seeking out writing inspiration that matches. This is one of the most emotionally evocative songs I know and when it came up in my playlist I had to take a moment and just live in the feelings. The first time I heard it I think I gasped out loud in the third act. I would say enjoy, but...sit with it for a bit.

The Highwayman
by Loreena McKennitt

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon the cloudy seas
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
A highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
A highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door

He'd a french cocked hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin
A coat of glaring velvet, and breeches of brown doe skin
They fitted with never a wrinkle, his boots were up to the thigh
And he rode with a chill and a twinkle
His pistol butts a twinkle
His rapier hilt a twinkle, under the jeweled sky

And over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark of night
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter
Bess, the landlord's daughter
Plaiting a long dark red love-knot into her long black hair

One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day
Then look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way

He rose upright in the stirrups, he scarce could reach her hand
She loosened her hair in the casement, her face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight
Oh, sweet waves in the moonlight!
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west

He did not come at the dawning, he did not come at noon
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moon
A red-coat troop came marching
Marching, marching
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed
Two of them knelt at the casement, with muskets at their side
There was death at every window
Hell at one dark window
For Bess could see, through the casement
The road that he would ride

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest
And they bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast
Now keep good watch and they kissed her
She heard the dead man say
"Look for me by the moonlight
Watch for me by the moonlight
I'll come to thee by the moonlight, though hell should bar the way"

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good
She writhed her hands 'til her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness and the hours crawled on by like years!
'Til, now, on the stroke of midnight
Cold, on the stroke of midnight
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers

Tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear
Tlot-tlot, in the distance, were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill
The highwayman came riding
Riding, riding
The red-coats looked to their priming
She stood up straight and still

Tlot in the frosty silence, tlot, in the echoing night
Nearer he came and nearer, her face was like a light
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath
Her finger moved in the moonlight
Her musket shot her in the moonlight
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him with her death

He turned, he spurred to the west, he did not know she stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood
Not 'til the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter
The landlord's black-eyed daughter
Watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there

And back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky
With a white rope smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high
Blood-red were the spurs inthe golden moon, wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway
Down like a dog on the highway
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat

Still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees
When the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon the cloudy seas
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moon
The highwayman comes riding
Riding, riding
The highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door

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