The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

Paul Revere's Ride
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

The North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the colonial militia, fearing that the British would burn the town, began their pursuit of the troops that lasted all the way to Boston and safety for the British behind the guns of the HMS Somerset. We followed roughly the same trail today.

North Bridge from the Concord side. Note that the memorial here is an obelisk, like the one at Bunker Hill, the one at Lexington Common and the Washington Monument. Someone who knows more about the Masons than I do, can you explain exactly the significance of the obelisk within Masonic orders? Because I know there is a direct connection between the Masonic roots of many of the Founding Fathers and the designs of our monuments, but I don't know what it is.

Hartwell Tavern near Concord, built in 1733, searched by the British for hidden armaments.

Buckman Tavern in Lexington, headquarters of the Minutemen on April 19, 1775. The American Revolution began just across the road..., where some overtired or overeager soldier on one side or the other fired a shot and the British proceeded to shoot at fleeing colonial patriots.

The British fled from Concord back through Lexington, where they were met by reinforcements who accompanied them on their march to Boston. We, however, got into the car and drove to the Museum of Fine Arts, where we saw Paul Revere's silver...

...a Catalan church ceiling...

...a temple room filled with Buddhas...and a few Monets, an exhibit on the ancient Olympics using Greek sculpture and urns, mummies, George Washington and much more.

At the art museum we also saw the delightful mrkinch, aesc and the_reverand, with whom we walked a few blocks and had Indian food and fine conversation in between sessions of telling my kids to keep their voices down, stop kicking, stop using inappropriate language, stop hitting each other, be careful of braces while eating tandoori shrimp, etc. So there was not nearly as much discussion of LOTR, slash or hot men in general as there should have been, but I so love putting faces to people I know from here and anyway we ended up talking about things that might never have come up in LJ comments. And I got to see one of the_reverand's drawings firsthand! We took photos but I want to make sure it's okay with all of them to post. In fact I may do a friends-locked post of pictures in which you can see me and various other family members in Constitution hammocks, throwing "tea" into Boston Harbor, standing by a miniature Argonath sculpture, etc.

We are going camping in the White Mountains in New Hampshire tomorrow night, so I will be completely offline from tomorrow morning until Friday night at the earliest...and we are staying at my sister's in Armonk, New York for the weekend so my online time will probably be severely curtailed as we try to keep our kids entertained. Before I go, however, I shall endeavor to post some of the paintings of ships in the American wing of the Museum of Fine Arts, which also had a wonderful collection of Thomas Cole paintings and a few by Church and Bierstadt; I had no idea, I only knew about the Impressionists and the Egyptian art, and I must admit that trying to do the museum in an hour is a pretty futile effort. On the other hand, an hour is better than not at all, and since we arrived after four the payment was a voluntary donation, which saved us a small fortune!

To my very great regret I did not manage to hook up with jenwrites or peregrine_ek due to time constraints, and we did not even manage to drag the kids on a drive through Norwood, where apaulled grew up, to bore them with sights from his youth. But I must add one more photo. I really wanted to take a picture of Fenway Park for all_ahoo, who has had to move away from her beloved Red Sox, but the one I snapped through the car window on the way into Boston only showed advertising on the back of the stadium, not even the lights. However, while leaving the art museum we did spot the blimp overhead, which enabled us to take a photo of the famous Indian sculpture admiring it as it deserves:

Tags: new england 04

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