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 he 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, black 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 meadow 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 farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats 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 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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Landlord’s Tale; Paul Revere’s Ride


  1. Bob says:

    I really love this poem, but they left out a bunch of important people!! *cough* Dr. Samuel Prescott (I think that’s his name) *cough* *cough*

  2. Carrissa says:

    I feel that this poem is a remarkable portrayal of Mr.Longfellow’s feelings and emotions during the time he went over the event. The passion he put behind this poem is incredible and truly displays and helps the reader’s mind picture this happening. Paul Revere’s ride was a truly inspiring experience to all people and represents what I fell to be a struggle to save loved ones, including a country.

  3. Rayna says:

    I attended a teaching seminar last May that included an analysis of “Paul Revere’s Ride”. The instructor of the seminar was of the opinion (I can’t find further evidence of this) that the poem may have been a reminder of how much this country had suffered to become independent and a plea to keep the country intact. It was written in 1860 and published in January 1861. If you remember your US history, 1861 was the year that the Civil War started. It has been and will continue to be one of my favorite poems. Reread the poem and see what you think!

  4. Sandy Fowler says:

    After a sleepless night, at 4 a.m. two days before Christmas, I’ve read again this poem from childhood. This time it brought blinding tears to my eyes in thankfulness for those brilliant 18th century architects of our wonderful country — they had the foresight at that time of what it would mean for generations of Americans if they were successful. If they had failed, as rebels they knew they would surely be hung as traitors. I thank them all for their courage. Thank you, Mr. Longfellow!

  5. Bill says:

    For a marvelous description of Paul Revere, his compatriots, and the events surrounding his midnight ride, read the book “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer. (ISBN 0-19-509831-5 in paperback)

  6. SuAnn says:

    This poem was one of my favorites from elementary school. I was required to memorize the first few stanzas. In re-reading it again now after many years, I still feel the same energy and spirit that I did when I first read it as a child. I visited Boston a number of years ago and that experience, too, gives me a better appreciation of this poem and it’s telling of such an historic time.

  7. Jenna says:

    I have been to Boston recently, I visited the Old North Church, the statue of Paul Revere, and Paul Revere’s grave site. After that visit this poem has new meaning to me, it is the most wonderful poem to me now!

  8. Gail says:

    We visited Boston recently and they told us on two tours that Paul Revere had 16 children by 2 wives (Sarah and Rachel each having 8 children) The tour guides told us that Paul Revere was not wealthy enough to have a horse (too many children to raise) and he was walking or running for a while until some locals gave him a horse.
    The Longfellow poem may give another impression but in the interest of the poem , it reads better to assume Paul had the horse the whole time.

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