by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott
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.
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.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Suddenly the words came back to me more than 35 years after I first heard and read them. They have been familiar to generations of Americans since 1860 when they were penned by American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow (1807-1882) was a prominent educator, serving on the faculty of Harvard University and living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It was Longfellow’s home that I came across, as I walking through a neighborhood in Cambridge that brought his famous words to my memory. Now a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service, the home stands as a timeless reminder not only to Longfellow, but also George Washington.
Washington used the house as his Headquarters as he took command of the Continental Army in July 1775. His wife Martha, her son, daughter-in law and several enslaved servants joined him at the house as they converted into a functional residence/HQ. Here Washington would meet with many prominent men of his day such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others, as they consulted with him on the war for independence.
The house was passed through several owners until Longfellow became the owner in 1843, buying it from Elizabeth Craigie. Longfellow had rented a room from Craigie from 1837-1843. He lived in the house until his death in 1882. Longfellow left his position at Harvard University to dedicate his full time efforts to writing and scholarship. It was during this time, in 1860 that he wrote his now infamous poem about Paul Revere.
As I walked about the beautiful grounds of the house, I thought about the courage and conviction of those founding fathers as they fought against tyranny. An army that was ill-equipped, untrained, in-experienced was going against the strongest military force of the time. Paul Revere, a silversmith and Freemason from Boston, whom Longfellow memorialized in this famous poem, was one of these patriots who had taken up the call to action and joined the Continental Army.
I realized I was standing on hallowed ground.
Longfellow closed out his poem about Paul Revere writing:
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 forevermore!
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.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.
Thank you Worshipful Brother Gregory.. inspiring words..ReplyDelete