As opposed to poetry, which I mentioned yesterday...
There is an excellent article at the New Yorker website (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/06/the-hyperlore-of-paul-revere.html) on the history of Paul Revere's Ride. It provides a look at documented history and the evolution (and misuse) of lore.
This is not really about poetry; it’s more about history and geography and education and politics and...stupidity.
I had to memorize a poem in grade school, a few lines of which I still remember, about the American Revolution. I don’t know if other kids were forced to learn such things, but I lived in a town near Boston, where it allegedly all started. That might explain this item being on the curriculum.
The poem’s title is The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, written by a guy named Longfellow (according to my long-term memory, which tends to be more reliable than the short-term one). Paul was supposedly a silversmith from Boston, who also owned a horse...or was able to borrow one. The story of one eventful night in his life, or a glorified version thereof, is captured in the poem. Here are the lines I remember:
One if by land, and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm
In case school children from other districts, states, or generations were not forced to learn this bit of Americana, I’ll provide a free (bonus) summary. It’s about Paul Revere receiving a signal beamed from a church tower across the water in Boston about British troop movements. If they traveled by boat, the invasion route would be different than one used on foot. For those of you unfamiliar with geography (as at least one resident of Alaska seems to be), Middlesex is a county northwest of Boston. The towns of Concord and Sudbury are located in this county, the importance of which is known to “scholars” of the Revolution and politicians taking the time to feign intelligence.
If the poem is correct, it would suggest that Mr. Revere took a ride to warn his fellow citizens of an impending visit from men in red coats. It does not mention any communication with those foreign fellows, which a certain political clown has tried wring from the verse.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.