Paul Revere's Ride "The Fate Of A Nation Was Riding That Night"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The Fate Of A Nation Was Riding That Night"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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.