The Landlord’s Tale. 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.
Meanwhile, his friend, through 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 arms, and 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 stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
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,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, 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,
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
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 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,
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,
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,
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
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.
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,
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 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.
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 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,
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.
Summary of The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride
- Popularity of “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride”: This poem was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a great American poet. The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride is a narrative poem famous about patriotism and commemoration of an American patriot Paul Revere, known for playing a major role in the American revolution. The poem was first published in 1861 in The Atlantic. The poem speaks about a great historical figure who exerted his mental and physical efforts to save his people. It also explains how his great services are remembered even after several years of his demise, including patriotism and its importance in history.
- “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride” As a Representative of Courage: This poem honors brave Paul Revere for the great services he offered in the past. The poem begins when the landlord addresses his people to tell them about a legendary figure, Paul Revere, who played a pivotal role on the 18th of April in 1775 when British forces plotted against the colonial leaders of Lexington and Concord. When the colonists got to know their nasty plan, they set several men to warn the townspeople and one of them was this great figure, Paul Revere. He tells his friend to hang the lantern in the belfry of Old North Church to signal if the enemy army is approaching by sea or by land.
Paul Revere himself stood on the opposite side to inform the country about their arrival. Soon after, his friend catches the glimpse of a dark ship approaching the shore. He carefully climbs up the church’s tower to perform his duty. Upon finding the signal, Paul Revere quickly rides to the meeting house of Lexington and later to Concord. However, he loses his life while performing this heroic action and his sacrifice is not forgotten. His grave efforts and message still echoes in the darkness. Hence, he is always remembered for honesty and bravery.
- Major Themes in “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride”: Bravery, honesty, patriotism, and history are the major themes underlined in this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker talks about the courage and patriotism of Paul Revere. Although Revere was not the only man who performed this great task, yet he will be remembered a hero for ages, and his great deed will always shine in the pages of history. He knew that he was appointed to undertake a mission that is not only difficult but also requires the utmost in terms of energy and discretion and he beautifully performed it in the need of the hour. It is due to this commitment, courage, and devotion, he is still remembered.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride”
Literary devices are very important elements of a literary text. The writers use them to bring richness to the text and also make the readers understand the hidden meaning of the text. Longfellow has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “Blowing over the meadows brown.” and the sound of /i/ in “Swim in the moonlight as he passed”.
- Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “How the” in the second last stanza of the poem to emphasize the point is repeated.
“How the British Regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball.”
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick successions such as the sound of /h/ in “The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed” and the sound of /t/ in “And turned and tightened his saddle girth”.
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,
“The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers feel things through their five senses. For example, “He heard the bleating of the flock”, “And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare” and “And felt the breath of the morning breeze.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The “lantern” symbolizes hope and indication.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in it such as; “need/steed”, “past/last”, “load/road” and “ball/wall.”
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are nine stanzas in this poem comprised of different numbers of verses.
Quotes to be Used
The lines stated below are useful for a speech while talking about the great legends who gave their precious lives for the sake of their lands.
“Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear…”