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 still alive who remembers
that famous day and year.
I loved this poem when I was a kid. As a history nerd, I loved the story of Paul Revere, but I also liked the rhythm and cadence of the words that seemed to mimic the galloping hoof beats of the horse.
And then, I tend to be a fan of Ted Rand's work in general.
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar.
And a huge black hull, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Spying on the powerful British, outwitting the stronger nation, outfighting the best trained fighters in the world--the Revolutionary era is just chockful of romantic, beating the underdog stories. And Paul Revere's story is the linchpin to the successful begin of the war when we beat back the British in Lexington and Concord, inspiring pride and passion on the side of the colonists.
Climbing the belfry of the North Chapel
Paul Revere waiting for the light
One if by land, two if by sea
The fate of a nation was riding that night
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at that bridge would be the first to fall
Who that day would be lying dead
Pierced by a British musket-ball.
That first shot "heard round the world" always interested me. No one could pinpoint who shot, which side was the instigator. They just know a shot was fired and a bloody six year long struggle was begun.
As an adult, there is less romance and more agony in these stories. You understand the cost a little more--the children without fathers, the boys who would never grow up, the lives irretrievably altered by this political disagreement with the King of England. The abstract ideas of men's rights and independence having very real life consequences for a farmer's wife in the small town of Concord.
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.