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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Paul Revere’s Ride
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
‘The Landlord’s Tale’ in ‘Tales of a Wayside Inn’

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.        5
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;        10
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        15
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        20
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,        25
  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.        30
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        35
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,        40
  And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the church-yard, 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,        45
  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        50
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        55
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,        60
  Now 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,        65
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,        70
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        75
  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.        80
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,        85
  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,        90
  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        95
    Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
    As if they already stood aghast
  At the bloody work they would look upon.        100
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        105
  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.        110
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 redcoats down the lane,        115
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        120
  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 forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,        125
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.        130

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