Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an Epic Narrative Poem
“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an Epic Narrative Poem
When you are done with this, you will:
- know how an author’s craft can be used to stretch facts
- understand the elements of narrative poetry
- be able to summarize narrative poetry
- know the truth about Paul Revere
- be able to recognize basic poetic elements such as stanzas, verses, rhyme, rhythm, imagery
- be prepared to write your own narative poem
Let’s remember the Unit Theme – Just or Unjust: Consider these questions just to get your brain going. DO not bother writing these down, just think about them while you read the poem, and after you read while you are doing the follow up work. . . .
- Was it fair for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to depict the event of Paul Revere alerting the colonists to the onset of the British attack the way he did? Or was it unjust?
- Did Longfellow commit an injustice to stretch the facts of the event the way he did?
- Is this a question of just or unjust or are we dealing with a whole other issue?
- Form your own opinion after careful consideration.
Basic Focus Questions
- What is a narrative poem?
- Who was Paul Revere?
Here’s what you have to get done.
—— Before we/you read the poem ——
In class we discussed the following topics. If you missed class, then you should take some notes on the following:
1. What is a narrative poem? Well, what is a narrative? what is a poem? What are elements of fiction (1st QTR Review)? What are poems composed of?
Find the answer to this in your Language of Literature text on page 713. You can access these resources through the classzone/eservices website.
2. Who was Paul Revere? Find some information on this in your Language of Literature text beginning on page 717; you can talk to your history teacher. You can get some resources for this through the classzone/eservices website.
—— While we/you read the poem ——
Read the Poem, Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Summarize the poem. In class, we split the poem into pieces for each group. You can get help with this at various sites on the web.
Write a brief statement to explain the theme of the poem. What is the BIG IDEA that you get from the poem.
—— After we/you read the poem ——
A. Complete your summary
B. Write your theme statement.
C. Complete the “What kind of person was Paul Revere?” worksheet/chart.
D. Complete the “Sequence of Events” worksheet/chart (using the poem).
E. Complete the “Compare/Contrast” worksheet/chart. Use the resources compiled below to figure out what the truth of the matter is. How far did Longfellow stretch the truth?
F. Complete the “Error/Correction” worksheet/chart.
G. Write your own song version of the event detailed in the resources.
—— RESOURCES TO USE FOR THIS ACTIVITY ——
YOU HAVE 2 BLOCKS WORTH OF TIME TO GET THIS DONE. WE BEGAN ON 11/17/08, AND SO WE WILL BE DONE AT THE END OF CLASS ON 11/18/08.
—— A Brief Biography of Paul Revere——
The Historic Paul Revere
Paul Revere: A Brief ACCURATE Biography
1734 – In December Paul Revere is born in North End, Boston. He learns reading and writing at the North Writing School. At age 12 he learns silversmithing from his father. He earns extra money ringing the bells at Old North Church. When he is 19 his father dies, and he becomes the family’s main supporter.
1755 – At the age of 21, he volunteers to fight the French in upstate New York, and becomes a second lieutenant. A year later he marries Sarah Orne and together they have eight children.
False Teeth Made to Order – As a silversmith, Paul creates pieces ranging from simple spoons to full tea sets. When times get hard he advertises as a dentist. He not only cleans teeth, but also wires in false teeth carved from walrus ivory or animal teeth. During other times he works as a copper plate engraver and an engraver of business cards, political cartoons, bookplates, a song book and bills of fare for taverns.
Paul becomes involved with secret patriot organizations such as the Committees of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty. He is an excellent rider and carries messages between the different patriot groups in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
1770 – Paul is now 35 years old and buys this house in North Square . This is the house you can see today on the Freedom Trail in Boston.
Paul continues to ride as a messenger for the highly secret Committees of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty.
1770 – On March 5 tensions are high between the British troops and the townspeople of Boston. Snowballs, ice, sticks and rocks are thrown at the guards, knocking one British soldier to the ground. The crowd daringly yells, “Fire on us!” and the British soldiers in their panic finally do. Five colonists die. This would become known as “The Boston Massacre.”
This engraving by Paul Revere is an early example of American propaganda. The poster is full of inaccuracies, but it makes the colonists even angrier with the British troops in Boston. They blame England for the death of the 5 colonists.
Eight British soldiers are tried for the incident, and in a surprising twist are defended by John Adams, a leading Patriot. Paul draws a more accurate illustration that was used at the trial. Six of the nine British soldiers are found innocent.
1773 – Sarah Revere dies after the birth of their eighth child, and soon after Paul marries Rachel Walker with whom he will have eight more children. Later that year he participates in the Boston Tea Party, and rides to New York and Boston with the news of that event. Paul takes an oath of secrecy to never tell of his participation in the Tea Party. Although others later reveal that he was there, Paul keeps his word and never takes credit for participating. (Even though the “Tea Party Indians” were considered heroes after the Revolution.)
1774 – The British Parliament closes Boston Harbor, and Paul is selected by the Patriots to ride to Philadelphia with the news.
1775 – On the night of April 18th and 19th, Paul makes his famous Midnight Ride to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British are marching to arrest them. Along with William Dawes and other riders, he warns the countryside of the British march. He witnesses the “shot heard ’round the world” as fighting breaks out in Lexington.
After the Revolution Paul runs a small hardware store and imports goods from England. By 1788 he opens a foundry (metal factory) which makes bolts, spikes and nails for North End shipyards (including brass fittings for the U.S.S. Constitution). He also makes cannons and casts bells.
Revere opens the first copper rolling mill in North America in 1801 and provides copper sheeting for the hull of the U.S.S. Constitution and the dome of the new Massachusetts State House in 1803. Revere Copper and Brass, Inc. is still in business (it’s now owned by Corning) and is best known for “Revereware” pots and pans.
In 1811, at the age of 76, Paul Revere retires and leaves his copper business to his sons and grandsons. His wife Rachel and son Paul both die in 1813.
Revere dies on May 10, 1818 at the age of 83, leaving five children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Paul Revere is buried in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground.
—— A Brief Explanation of What Actually Happened That Night ——
The Real Midnight Ride
Read this Time Line of Events to find out the REAL STORY. Then use the graphic organizer to compare and contrast Paul Revere’s Ride with this factual account.
The words in italics are from Revere’s own account of the ride. He was an excellent rider, but not a very good speller.
Saturday & Sunday
April 15-16, 1775
Revere arranges with a friend (Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church) to set signals to warn the Sons of Liberty in Charlestown if the British begin to march. Many riders (at least several dozen) are ready to spread the word if the British begin to march from Boston.
“…if the British went out by Water, we should shew two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; and if bye Land one, as a Signal…” (Revere Deposition)
April 18, 1775
9:30 PM Rider William Dawes, leaves Boston by the southern route across Boston Neck to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams in Lexington that the British were marching to arrest them.”When I got to Dr Warren’s house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lexington— a Mr. William Dawes.”
10:00 PM Dr. Joseph Warren (of the Sons of Liberty) sends for Revere and asks him to ride to Lexington and warn Hancock and Adams of British plans. “About 10 o’clock, Dr. Warren Sent in a great haste for me, and begged that I would immediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock and Adams were…”
Charlestown Two friends row Revere across the Charles River to Charlestown. He checks to be sure that the Sons of Liberty had seen the signals he had arranged from the Old North Church. He borrows a horse from a friend and begins his ride. “When I got into town, I met Col. Connant, and several others; they said that they had seen our signals. I told them what was Acting, and went to git me a Horse; I got a Horse of Deacon Larkin.”
Medford Revere reaches Medford, riding north along the Mystic River. “I awakened the Captain of the minute men; and after that I alarumed almost every house till I got to Lexington.”
April 19 1775
Midnight at Lexington Revere reaches Lexington, finds and warns Adams and Hancock. “I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s; I told them my errand, and… they said [Mr. Dawes] had not been there…”
On to Concord Dawes arrives and he and Revere decide to continue on to Concord, where the local militia had been storing weapons, ammunition, food, and provisions. “Mr Daws came; we refreshid ourselves, and set off for Concord to secure the Stores, etc. there.”
12:45 AM Along the way they meet Dr. Samuel Prescott, another Son of Liberty member, and the three men continue on together. “We were overtaken by a young Doctor Prescot, whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty.”
Captured! A British patrol stops all three men. Dr. Prescott and Billy Dawes escape, but Revere is held. “I was about one hundred Rod ahead… in an Instant I was surrounded by four… the Doctor humped his Horse over a low Stone wall, and got to Concord.”
Back to Lexington Paul is questioned by the British soldiers, taken back with them to Lexington, and released without his horse. “…the Major ordered him, if I attempted to run, or any body insulted them, to blow my brains out.”
Buckman Tavern Paul helps Adams and Hancock escape, then enters Buckman Tavern to get Hancock’s trunk. “Mr Lowell asked me to go to the Tavern with him, to git a Trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock. We went up Chamber; and while we were giting the Trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full March.”
“The shot heard ’round the world” As Paul takes the trunk out, he hears the first shots fired on Lexington Green. “When we got about 100 Yards from the meeting-House the British Troops appeared on both Sides… I saw and heard a Gun fired… Then I could distinguish two Guns, and then a Continual roar of Musquetry; Then we made off with the Trunk.”
—— Worksheet/Chart – “What Kind of Person was Paul Revere?” ——
What Kind of a Person Was Paul Revere?
What a person is like on the outside makes up the person’s physical traits. These may include such things as height, hair length, or hair and eye color.
What a person is like on the inside is described with character traits This may include such descriptors as brave, honest, responsible, clever, thoughtful, or sad. We usually have ideas about what kind of a person someone is on the inside after reading about what s/he has said, what s/he has done, or from other people’s comments about the person. People’s conclusions about someone’s character traits can be different. We have ideas based on our own experiences and interpretations of the information given to us.
Think about what kind of a person Paul Revere was.
- Write a word that describes a character trait of Paul Revere.
- Give your reason, using evidence from the readings that caused you to come to that conclusion.
Character Trait Reason (Evidence from the Readings)
1. _____________________________ | _______________________________________________________________
2. _____________________________ | _______________________________________________________________
3. _____________________________ | _______________________________________________________________
4. _____________________________ | _______________________________________________________________
—— Worksheet/Chart – “Sequence of Events” ——
Sequence of Events Chart – Using the poem, complete each of the started sentences.
- Paul asks his friend to warn him if the British ……
- Paul says good night and….
- Meanwhile his friend sees the British…..
- His friend climbs….
- Paul waits across the river, and sees….
- Paul mounts his horse and……
- At midnight he crosses…..
- At one o’clock he….
- At 2 o’clock he….
- That day…….
—— Worksheet/Chart – “Compare/Contrast” ——
COMPARE-CONTRAST WORKSHEET: Two Views of the Midnight Ride
Student Instructions: The boxes contain descriptions of Midnight Ride events according to Longfellow (left). Be sure to examine the time line of the Real Midnight Ride. Write in a factual description of the events according to Paul Revere and later historians.Hint: There are two major inaccuracies in Longfellow’s poem: (1) the purpose of the lanterns hung in the Old North Church tower, and (2) Revere’s 2 AM arrival in Concord.
Paul Revere’s Ride
the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The Real Ride
as told by Paul Revere
- In the poem…Paul asked a friend to warn him of a British march from Boston by hanging one or two lanterns in the Old North Church tower.
- What really happened was…
- In the poem…Paul Revere was the only rider ready to ride and warn of British Regulars marching from Boston.
- What really happened was…
- In the poem…Paul waited impatiently across the river for the lantern signal. After seeing the two lanterns in the Old North Church steeple, Paul mounted his own horse and began his ride.
- What really happened was…
- In the poem…Paul rode through Medford, Lexington, and finally reached Concord as the clock struck two.
- What really happened was…
—— Worksheet/Chart – “Error/Correction” ——
Reread the poem Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Note the factual errors in the poem. Write these down and the correction you’ve found.
Error Correction Page
Paul said to his friend, “If the British . . .” Paul called out, “The Regulars are out! The Regulars are out!” The soldiers were called the Regulars, not the British.
Now list the corrected facts you want to include in your rap. You may add more facts than Longfellow told.
—— Culminating Activity – Write a song!!! ——
Practice writing a song (any form is acceptable – middle school appropriate language is mandatory) on the story of Paul Revere in your Reader’s Notebooks, then compose a final draft on looseleaf.
Here’s an idea for a start:
His name was Paul. Paul Revere.
He saved the day. That’s how we’re here!
So listen. Listen. And you shall hear.
About his late, late ride
With friends by his side.
Other EPIC POEMS: