"The Fate Of A Nation Was Riding That Night"

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Context: The last half of the poem describes the details and interprets the significance of Revere's ride. "It was twelve by the village clock/ When he crossed the bridge into Med-ford town." He reaches Lexington at one o'clock, Concord at two. The windows of the meetinghouse "Gaze at him with a spectral glare,/ As if they stood aghast/ At the bloody work they would look upon." Captain Isaac Davis "was safe and asleep in his bed/ Who at the bridge would be first to fall." Longfellow skims over the rest of the story: "How the British Regulars fired and fled,–/ How the farmers gave them ball for ball,/ From behind each fence and farmyard wall,/ Chasing the red-coats down the lane . . . And only pausing to fire and load." The poet feels that Revere's ride will have great influence on the history of America and of the world:

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

"One, If By Land, And Two, If By Sea"