Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On the Eighteenth of April...


The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

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. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1860





25 comments:

  1. Thank you, Listener, for posting this great historical and patriotic poem. It seems very apt for our times, especially the closing lines.

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    1. So poignant to read them today, isn't it?!

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  2. Replies
    1. Yeah, the Boston Marathon was grueling in the heat. It was "only" in the 70's, but try running hard for three straight hours in that. PhD*Son said that he couldn't drink water fast enough, as he was sweating so hard and it would simply evaporate quickly, which can help cool a person some, but it mostly meant he was losing fluids fast. They all were. He had stomach cramps for much of the race, especially the final third. He said he's never seen so many people WALKING up Heartbreak Hill instead of running. He said a lot of people looked shell shocked in the recuperation area after the Finish Line. All the more amazing that he got a personal record best run time! He's most happy that he didn't throw up.

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  3. Well put, Cat. I shall have to set aside some time today to read it carefully and reflectively.

    On another, less sanguine note, I found this in the NY Times Opinion pages this morning:

    Reaching Out to the Voters the [DNC] Left Behind[Click] Nothing really new here, but well-organized… To summarize: we should return to the New Deal consensus.

    —Alan

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  4. Mum had her first followup visit for her ankle this morning. The fracture is mending, though not as fast as they would like. She has to go back in two weeks, whereas initially they scheduled the second followup for May 15.

    She has been experiencing emotional distress. All weekend and through Monday she has been crying and largely unable to eat. We thought this had to do with anxiety over the upcoming doctor's visit. Also though, she has cut back and (I'm not sure about this) possibly stopped the oxycotten,as the pain is much reduced. Sis and I wondered if getting off the med sparked the horrible time she's been having. That's bad junk except for the short time you actually need it. I'm going to try to find out how long it take to get out of the system. She probably shouldn't start taking plain old Tylenol again till it's all gone, right?

    BTW the folks at the doc's agreed that the med is too strong but, as I understand it, offered no alternatives, which is distinctly unhelpful.

    The outing totally exhausted Mum, who has no stamina whatsoever. Other minor things went awry when they got home and, of course, everything is magnified to monstrous proportions when you're unwell and distraught. She's resting now. She still hasn't eaten, not so much as a frappe or a cuppa. I hope she'll be able to have something after her sleep. She has plenty of water in her carafe... There's nothing we can do but let her rest.

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    1. I wonder too, Cat. I was on a medication for an ear that filled with liquid and went deaf. Out of caution I only took half a pill instead of a whole one. I don't know what it was, but it made me feel WONDERFUL! Everything was beautiful, I was operating on only four hours of sleep a night while working in a stressful job. The time came when I went off the meds and I crashed into a deep, deep clinical depression. I had to see a shrink and go on meds. It was a horrible time and took me quite a while to get back to "normal", so I feel for your Mom.

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    2. Here's a page that gives some rough idear of how long the stuff stays in the system. Not as long as I'd feared.

      How long does oxycodone stay in your system? - Click

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    3. Bloody Hell, Susan! That sounds horrible! I'm soooooo glad you finally got yourself back together♥

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    4. And there's no reason I can see for waiting until oxycodone leaves the body before starting acetaminophen (Tylenol). They work in totally different ways.

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    5. Withdrawal can do weird things, that's for sure--and unusual reactions do occur. (My good wife tried ibuprofen at her doctor's suggestion, and it caused intolerable agitation--like methamphetamine, I swear.) Non-time-release oxycodone should be gone in about a day; time-release in two days, I'd estimate. As Bill said, no reason to not mix oxycodone and tylenol; but the two are often compounded together in the non-time-release tablets, so check the label. These days the medicos are if anything over-cautious about tylenol/acetaminophen overdosage; but frank overdosage is VERY nasty (think someone chugging a bottle of pills). For a very old-timey and pretty much innocuous medicine, one might use various types of "muscle rub" (what used to be called liniment), with methyl salicylate, camphor and menthol (the more the better). Famous brand name = Bengay. That's way less powerful than opioids, but for an ankle I'd sure be tempted to use it. (Not on big areas of the body, though; overdoses are possible.) There are various types of super-aspirin, but they all tend to irritate the stomach, I think. My two cents' worth.

      --Alan

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    6. Thanks, guys, but I'm concerned now. AFAIK she stopped taking he stuff Friday; so, it should be pretty much gone. But as I write she is weak and weepy again. Sis reports she is babbling. Very worrisome!

      Unfortunately, liniment is out of the question as the ankle is in a cast.

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    7. Yes, that sounds like something that needs to be seen to without any unreasonable delay.

      -Alan

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    8. I, too, am glad you got through that, Susan. Yikes!!

      Cat, I suspect the office didn't feel they should prescribe something over the phone, and figure she'll soon have the appointment. But non-prescription idears ought to have been offered!! If it will be a couple more days until her appointment, it might be good for someone to call and ask specifically for what could help before then.

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  5. Replies
    1. Looks like a good read; will do so this evening. Yes, the "New Democrats'" have run their course; I personally never thought much of them. But when people say someone "must" do something, I translate that as "I wish they would."

      Alan


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    2. Never had any use for New Democrats myself. I agree, though, that "must" generally reflects wishful thinking.

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  6. Noted at lunch break:

    Mexico’s Revenge[Click] “By antagonizing the U.S.’s neighbor to the south, Donald Trump has made the classic bully’s error: He has underestimated his victim.”

    The Keystone Kops Go To Sea[Click] That’ll sure larn them thar North Koreans a lesson—maybe that Donald Trump can’t find his arse (or at least his aircraft carrier) with both hands? But I’m being disrespectful—bad me. Guess I won’t be invited to play golf at Mar-a-Lago.

    —Alan

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  7. Heh. Rasmussen wants to know what I think. Told 'em. DT & MP are POS. The economy is terrific and a recession is expected in six months. Wrong track. Bad jobs all around. Afghanistan is not a major concern, neither is NK. 65+, -$30K, Grad Degree. Fun to be asked.

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    1. Hey, if you have the chance, take it! I don't recall ever being asked.

      Alan

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  8. Longfellow was aptly named.

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  9. Root*Center*Son got the house! πŸ˜ƒ The appraisal came in $8K higher than the negotiated selling price!!! SWEET!!!

    Waiting for official word, but it was said at the outset that the Closing would be May 24th.
    Nice, because his current apartment lease is through the end of May. Ha!

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    1. After closing, you should tell us something about the house (other than its location, which we heard about).

      Alan

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  10. May be several days before we have final results in the Georgia special election, as technical problems in the Fulton County part of the district are delaying the count. Osoff is barely above 50% in the rest of the district, but pundits think Fulton will go Republican and force a run-off.

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