The midnight ride of Paul Revere

The awakening for what is ahead of us.

The ride of Paul Revere is a famous poem by Longfellow, as in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It commemorates the American patriot Paul Revere who on the 18th April, 1775 rode furiously across Middlesex County, Massachusetts spreading the alarm that the British were approaching.

Spreading the alarm throughout Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
Spreading the alarm throughout Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

As the website The Paul Revere House explains here:

In 1774 and the Spring of 1775 Paul Revere was employed by the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as an express rider to carry news, messages, and copies of resolutions as far away as New York and Philadelphia.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere was sent for by Dr. Joseph Warren and instructed to ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. After being rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown by two associates, Paul Revere borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. While in Charlestown, he verified that the local “Sons of Liberty” committee had seen his pre-arranged signals. (Two lanterns had been hung briefly in the bell-tower of Christ Church in Boston, indicating that troops would row “by sea” across the Charles River to Cambridge, rather than marching “by land” out Boston Neck. Revere had arranged for these signals the previous weekend, as he was afraid that he might be prevented from leaving Boston).

On the way to Lexington, Revere “alarmed” the country-side, stopping at each house, and arrived in Lexington about midnight. As he approached the house where Adams and Hancock were staying, a sentry asked that he not make so much noise. “Noise!” cried Revere, “You’ll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!” After delivering his message, Revere was joined by a second rider, William Dawes, who had been sent on the same errand by a different route. Deciding on their own to continue on to Concord, Massachusetts, where weapons and supplies were hidden, Revere and Dawes were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott. Soon after, all three were arrested by a British patrol. Prescott escaped almost immediately, and Dawes soon after. Revere was held for some time and then released. Left without a horse, Revere returned to Lexington in time to witness part of the battle on the Lexington Green.

I mention all this simply because when John Hurlburt recently sent me a guest post his email opened with these words: “Thanks for the call.  Hopefully, we are beginning to turn a global corner. Here’s a slightly modified version of “the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”.”

So with no further ado, here is John’s essay.

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Random Thoughts

The United States is a two hundred-year-old modern experiment in Democracy.  Democracy is an inclusive government by a majority of equal citizens.  Oligarchy and plutocracy are forms of government by the few rich people.  Both have historically ended in chaos.  Our hearts and our souls are deeply saddened by the ignorance and lack of compassion of a technologically enhanced corporate struggle against the earth and humanity.

Dualism is divisive.  We’re butting heads over false equivalencies which have very little if anything to do with the true nature of a global environmental, cultural and economic melt-down.  People who believe that money makes the world go round either don’t know much or don’t care at all about the realities of physics.

Sooner or later, fundamentalism self-destructs as a result of a failure to adapt to change. The longer we continue to push Nature’s envelope, the longer it’s going to take the earth to recover. Our hope is that we won’t destroy human culture and the sustaining crust of mother earth in the process of regaining our balance.

Most animals live primarily by instinct.  Humans have added discernment.  Today is the tomorrow we dreamed of yesterday. Who knows if we’ll get another opportunity to do what we are still capable of doing as a species today?  Unfortunately, the last thing that many Americans truly cared about was when the “Twinkie” factories temporarily shut down.

It is far better to live into solutions then it is to live with problems.The spiritual energy of life is as warm and welcoming as the sun. The first step is to accept that Nature requires life to adapt.  We need to see the integral vision beyond ourselves and live into that vision.

What we can’t accomplish alone we can accomplish together.

Ne cede malis!

an old lamplighter

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Fabulous words, as I’m sure you’ll agree.  Oh, and if you like me didn’t understand that Latin expression ‘Ne cede malis’, it means yield not to misfortunes.

Let me close with that Longfellow poem.

Paul Revere’s Ride

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 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.

3 thoughts on “The midnight ride of Paul Revere

  1. Oligarchy: government by the few. Implicitly: government by a self selected few. They don’t have to be rich in money to start with, but of course, it comes down to the same, as the interest of money is that it translates into power. In rare and extreme cases, oligarchy can be good, if the government by the self selected is a meritocracy.

    China’s autocratic governments rested on a Mandarin class that was an oligarchy (established by double blind multiday examinations).
    Look, say, at the USA Navy… Or what I call “democratic institutions” (say the bar associations or the orders of doctors).

    Plutocracy: in my book, it’s more than just government by those who have riches, but by Pluto itself. In other words, government by the Dark Side.

    Money: just power on people… For whatever reason. Nothing, as far as the universe is concerned.
    Revere is revered. Reverence for what? The program of escaping government by civilization? In all countries where colonialism kept control for a bit longer, the Natives survived in large percentage. OK, many are resentful, so they bicker. Those who did not survive, do not bicker, right.

    The USA was a democracy for “We The People”. Whoever “We The People” was. In Sparta “We The People” was the Spartans, and everybody else was fair game. Literally. they were hunted once a year, at the very least.

    The USA turned into a full representative democracy, formally speaking, only in the 2000s, when the last state made legal “interracial” marriages. Not coincidentally, thanks to Bill Clinton’s reforms of finance, the USA was simultaneously turning into a plutocracy.

    And the ancient Greco-Romans would not have called “representative democracy”, a democracy. The society that is the closest to a democracy is the 722 years old Switzerland. The ensemble of the population votes on all big legislation, and the representatives then implement those “votations”.

    Like

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