“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. “~Gaston Bachelard
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.
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.
And, by the way, on April 18, 1775, 237 years ago today, American revolutionaries Paul Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode though the towns of Massachusetts giving the warning that “the British are coming.”
Here are links to a few resources for teaching and enjoying the poetry of Mr. Longfellow:
In episode #197 of Adventures in Odyssey, entitled The Midnight Ride, Whit tells the real story of Paul Revere’s ride, pointing out a few inaccuracies in Longfellow’s poem. I would use this radio program in class if I were teaching this event in American history or if I were teaching the poem.
I’ve done several posts on Longfellow and his poetry here at Semicolon:
Poetry Friday: Poem #43, The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1841
If you’re interested in the inception of the American Revolution and Paul Revere, I would suggest two books, one fiction and one nonfiction, by Esther Forbes. Ms. Forbes received a Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for her historical work, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In, and in 1944 her young adult historical fiction book, Johnny Tremain, was awarded the Newbery Medal for distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Paul Revere is a character in the novel Johnny Tremain, and the entire story is a wonderful introduction to the American Revolution and to the ethos and culture of the mid to late 1700’s in Boston.