Happy Patriot’s Day

Sorry, I’m a New Englander, this is practically required. Not accurate of course, but it’s a classic!

Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s ride negelects to mention that there were other riders (the only one whose name is still known was William Dawes and they were later joined by Samuel Prescott), as well as that he was captured before he finished his run, misconstrues the importance of the lanterns in the church and has plenty of other issues… But it has a great tempo and recreated Revere as a folk hero. (Perhaps Longfellow’s focusing on Revolutionary war heroes after the divisive Civil War was a good marketing plan too…Look, this is where we all agreed on who the bad guys were. Which is also not true, but after 80 years and some major fighting that might be forgotten.)

So we join our hero as he plans to warn Hancock and Adams that the British Regulars were marching to officially seize military supplies (though they were scrupulous to not damage personal goods) and probably unofficially to seize Hancock and Adams… 

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.


This was the most I managed to memorize when I did the freedom trail walk with my cousin and visited Christ Church in the City of Boston. (The Old North Church.) You can always take a look at I love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not by Richard Shenkman for better details of the actual ride! The book is a bit dated, not all of the historical mistakes it reviews are still widely taught (We’ve a whole new wide range of those…), but I found it fun.


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Filed under Historical Facts and Trivia, Poetry

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