LEARNING GUIDE TO:
THE MIDNIGHT RIDE OF PAUL REVERE
SUBJECTS — U.S./1750 - 1812; Literature/U.S.;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Rebellion;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Citizenship.
Age: 8 - 13; No MPAA Rating; Animated; 10 minutes; Color.
Description: This is a delightful animated version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's classic poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. The poem is an excellent introduction to poetry and a great vocabulary builder.
Benefits of the Movie: This short film will introduce children to Paul Revere, his famous ride (April 18 - 19, 1775), the early stages of the American Revolution, and the poem.
Possible Problems: None.
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION: Was Paul Revere's midnight ride dangerous?
Suggested Response: Yes. He had to pass through British checkpoints at risk of arrest. He could be shot any one of the many British soldiers who were out that night, looking to kill rebels.
Paul Revere didn't give his alarm by saying "The British are coming!" This would have made no sense since the colonists considered themselves to be British. He said, "The Regulars are coming!"
Two other patriots, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, also rode out to warn the colonials about British troop movements on the night of April 18, 1775. The three men ran into a British patrol and were captured. First Dawes and then Prescott escaped. The British took Revere's horse but let him go. He walked back to Lexington in time to perform another service to the Revolution. John Hancock was one of the patriots the British were seeking that night. In his rush to escape from Lexington Hancock had left behind a trunk full of secret papers. Revere helped Hancock's clerk hide the trunk in the woods. In the meantime, 70 colonial militiamen were confronting 250 British regulars on Lexington Green. Paul Revere heard the "shot heard round the world" from the woods while he was helping to conceal Hancock's trunk.
The text of the poem is:
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."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
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.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for ever more!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
The Old North Church is still a functioning Episcopal Church located in the North End neighborhood of Boston.
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BUILDING VOCABULARY: aloft, ammunition, arch, barrack, belfry, bleating, blockade, chamber, colonist, crowing, defiance, emerge, encampment, gilded, grenadiers, impetuous, magnify, militia, mooring, muster, patriot, peril, rebellion, reflection, revolution, rouse, somber, spar, spectral, stealthy, steed, tranquil, tread, twitter, uprising, unrest, weathercock.
1. See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
2. What type of meter does Longfellow employ in this poem? What is the effect?
3. What was the purpose of the British expedition to Lexington and Concord?
4. In the poem Longfellow describes many things that do not relate directly to Paul Revere's ride and its purpose. What is the reason for this?
5. This is one of the most popular poems written about an event in American history. What makes it so well-liked and so memorable?
6. What components of the film enhance the message and mood of the poem?
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Select questions that are appropriate for your students.
Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Do your share to make your school and community better; Cooperate; Stay informed; vote; Be a good neighbor; Obey laws and rules; Respect authority; Protect the environment)
1. Why did Paul Revere make his midnight ride?
Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.
Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.
|MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: This is America Charlie Brown The Birth of the Constitution, The Mayflower Voyagers and The Smithsonian and the Presidency. See also The Crossing and 1776.|
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