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 tonight,
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…”
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar….
Then, he climbed the tower of the Old North Church…
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their 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…
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…
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere
Now he patted his horse’s side….
Mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the Old North Church…
A glimmer and then a gleam of light…..
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
Stuck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet…
The fate of a nation was riding that night…
He left the village and mounted the steep…
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.
It was one by the village clock
When he galloped into Lexington…
It was two by the village clock
When he galloped into Concord town…
Who at the bridge would be the 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…
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,
A word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hours of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow