Listen, my children, and also you candlestick hearOf the midnight drive of Paul Revere,On the eighteenth the April, in Seventy-five;Hardly a guy is currently aliveWho remembers that famous day and also year.

You are watching: Listen my child and you shall hear

The opening lines that "Paul Revere’s Ride" are perhaps the best-known words this day of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem, v its galloping measure and steady rhyme, take it the reader with Paul Revere’s urgent ride on the night of the battle of Lexington and Concord. When it was released in Tales the a Wayside Inn (1863), the poem became "The Landlord’s Tale," through the proprietor of the old inn in Sudbury telling the regional history.


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"Paul Revere"s Ride," 1923-1949, Research, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poems and also Prose, in the H.W.L. Dana files (LONG 17314)

Inspiration & Research

Longfellow’s poem was influenced by neighborhood places and historic events, though he took far-reaching poetic license v the historic facts. The triggering event seems to have actually been a tour of Boston top top 5 April 1860, i m sorry he videotaped in his journal:

Go v Sumner come Mr. Having, that the phibìc End, that acts together our overview to the "Little Britian" of Boston. Walk to the Copp"s Hill burial ground and also see the dig of noodle Mather, his father and his son; then to the old phibìc Church, which looks like a parish church in London. Climb the tower come the Chime the Bells, currently the house of innumerable pigeons. Indigenous this tower to be hung the lanterns as a signal the the british troops had left Boston for Concord.

Longfellow started writing the poem the next day. The signal lanterns were immortalized in his phrase, "One, if by land, and also two, if by sea." He offered his expedition up the Old phibìc Church tower to paint a vivid snapshot of Revere’s friend preparing to hold up the lanterns:

Then he climbed the tower the the Old north Church,By the wooden stairs, v stealthy tread,To the belfry-chamber overhead,And startled the pigeons from your perchOn the sombre rafters, that round the madeMasses and moving shapes of shade

Longfellow continued work on the city over the following several months – noting an especially writing a couple of lines ~ above April 19, "this gift the work of that achievement." The poem was released in the Boston night Transcript and Atlantic Monthly in December 1860; three years later on it was consisted of in Longfellow’s book Tales of a Wayside Inn.


Poetic License v History

Though based upon historic events, the poem have to be read as a legend or tale, no as a historical account. Plenty of historians have actually dissected the poem because 1860 and also compared it to Revere"s account of the drive in his very own words and other historic evidence. Of the numerous inaccuracies, three stand out:

Revere knew the brothers route before he left Boston. Though 2 lanterns were held aloft in the Old phibìc Church tower, Revere was no waiting on the Charlestown coast to check out them. Instead, they to be a fallback plan in instance he can not acquire out of Boston.Revere was caught by patrolling brother Regulars in Lincoln, just past Lexington, and also never come in Concord.Revere did not ride alone the night. The was among two riders to leave Boston, and also one of plenty of messengers dispersing the alarm.

The omission of various other riders was a specifically sore point for some. Henry Ware Holland, a descendant of wilhelm Dawes, self-published a history in 1878 titled William Dawes and His Ride v Paul Revere. He sent out a copy come Longfellow, that wryly remarked the it to be "a very handsome book… in which he convicts me that high historic crimes and misdemeanors."

Longfellow own the 1832 New England Magazine featuring a biography of Paul Revere with an account that his ride, and was may be to carry out it together a reference to a correspondent in 1877. It is less particular whether he had actually read Revere"s account before writing the poem. The truth that one of Longfellow"s poems was published in the very same 1832 New England Magazine gift circumstantial proof for his previously awareness. Looking in ~ his various other historically-based works, including Evangeline and The brand-new England Tragedies, the fits his an approach to have carried out extensive research in preparation, yet not be bound come the historic truth when shaping his message.


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Paul Revere"s Ride set to music in 1905 (LONG 23076)

The Message

Longfellow composed "Paul Revere"s Ride" in 1860, in the midst of a national dilemm that would an outbreak into battle a year later. He was a pacifist and an abolitionist, despite quiet contrasted to his girlfriend Senator Charles Sumner. In earlier decades, he had actually used his poetry to speak out versus slavery in 7 Poems top top Slavery (1842), versus war in "The Arsenal at Springfield" (1845), and for the strength of the union in "The structure of the Ship" (1850).

Taking poetic license, Longfellow turned the singular personality of Paul Revere into an symbol of a merged patriotic previous with resonance in the existing political moment:

So through the night talk Paul Revere;And so with the night go his cry the alarmTo every Middlesex town and farm,--A cry of defiance and also not the fear,A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,And a word that shall echo forevermore!For, borne on the night-wind the the Past,Through every our history, come the last,In the hour the darkness and peril and also need,The people will waken and listen come hearThe hurrying hoof-beats of the steed,And the midnight article of Paul Revere.

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In in march 1861, just three months after the poem"s publication, Abraham Lincoln do a comparable appeal in his inaugural address: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave come every life heart and also hearthstone everywhere this broad land, will yet swollen the chorus that the Union, as soon as again touched, as surely they will be, by the much better angels of ours nature."

Because of Longfellow’s portrayal, Paul Revere and his ride came to be icons that patriotism and the American Revolution. Also Longfellow"s movie critic Holland admitted that the scene of Revere waiting for the signal lights to be "one the the finest in our early american annals," despite he added that that "is pure fiction."

The fame from the poem resulted in the preservation of the Paul Revere house in 1901 and the erection of an equestrian statue that Revere in the zero of the Old north Church. In 1967, boy name Luther King summoned Longfellow’s iconic messenger, saying, "We still need some Paul Revere that conscience come alert every hamlet and also every town of America that change is still at hand." Thus, the "midnight message" the Paul Revere and also Henry Longfellow echoes to this day.