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1863

PAUL REVERE'S RIDE

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

PAUL REVERE'S RIDE -

Listenmy childrenand you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

On the eighteenth of Aprilin 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-

Oneif by landand twoif 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 SomersetBritish man-of-war;

A phantom shipwith each mast and spar

Across the moon like a prison bar

And a huge black hulkthat was magnified

By its own reflection in the tide. -

Meanwhilehis friendthrough 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 armsand 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 stairswith stealthy tread

To the belfry-chamber overhead

And startled the pigeons from their perch

On the sombre raftersthat round him made

Masses and moving shapes of shade-

By the trembling laddersteep 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. -

Beneathin the churchyardlay the dead

In their night-encampment on the hill

Wrapped in silence so deep and still

That he could hearlike a sentinel's tread

The watchful night-windas 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 hourand 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 tidelike a bridge of boats. -

Meanwhileimpatient to mount and ride

Booted and spurredwith a heavy stride

On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.

Now he patted his horse's side

Now gazed at the landscape far and near

Thenimpetuousstamped 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 lookson the belfry's height

A glimmerand then a gleam of light!

He springs to the saddlethe bridle he turns

But lingers and gazestill full on his sight

A second lamp in the belfry burns! -

A hurry of hoofs in a village street

A shape in the moonlighta bulk in the dark

And beneathfrom the pebblesin passinga spark

Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet:

That was all! And yetthrough the gloom and the light

The fate of a nation was riding that night;

And the spark struck out by that steedin his flight

Kindled the land into flame with its heat. -

He has left the village and mounted the steep

And beneath himtranquil and broad and deep

Is the Mysticmeeting the ocean tides;

And under the aldersthat skirt its edge

Now soft on the sandnow 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 windowsblank 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 meadows 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 farm-yard wall

Chasing the red-coats 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 defianceand not of fear

A voice in the darknessa knock at the door

And a word that shall echo forevermore!

Forborne on the night-wind of the Past

Through all our historyto 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 END




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