The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere is a Nineteenth Century poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that commemorates the actions of American patriot Paul Revere on April 18, 1775, although with a few significant inaccuracies. It was first published in the January 1861 issue of "The Atlantic Monthly." Later re-titled "The Landlord's Tale" in the collection "Tales of a Wayside Inn," the poem is spoken by the landlord of the Wayside Inn and tells a partly fictionalized story of Paul Revere's ride to signal the alarm to the American colonists of attacking British Troops. Longfellow's maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, had been Revere's commander on the Penobscot Expedition, and the popular theory is that he was inspired to write the poem after visiting the Old North Church on April 5, 1860. Mrs. Howell recites the poem as her talent during the Castaways' beauty contest, forgetting one phrase ("in the belfry-arch") and flipping the following line before quitting under the pepper attack from the Professor.
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....
(This is only as far as she gets before she quits. The actual poem has several more stanzas to it.)
- Among the historical inaccuracies in the poem is that Paul Revere set up the light system instead of being its recipient. The poem also claims Revere rowed himself across the Charles River when he was actually rowed over by others. He also didn't reach Concord that night, instead getting captured by the British. Another inaccuracy is a general lengthening of the time frame of the night's events. The majority criticism is Longfellow giving Revere sole credit for the ride when Revere was actually one of several sentries that gave ride that night.