‘…One if by land, and two if by sea…’


“The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” by Grant Wood, American artist, 1931. A larger view of the image is here.

Long ago, when American school children were taught the history of our nation’s founding, a reading or recitation of the poem Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was generally required in celebration of that famous event on this day, 18 April 1775.

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”

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