On the two hundred-twenty-fifth anniversary of the
midnight rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes
Hundreds of years after his famous ride,
we decided to take our stand by his side
at the scene of his capture in Lincoln town,
near the Hanscom Field road, just two blocks down.
We arrived at twelve, in the dark of the night,
knowing what awaited in the morning light,
and took our place in a good-natured crowd,
as the echo of hooves grew increasingly loud.
But whole centuries passed with nothing in sight,
so I asked a redcoat if there'd be trouble tonight.
He laughed, then replied he expected there would,
and someone jeered he go home while he could.
Soon flashes of crimson bloodied our sight,
with the lobsterbacks clearly taking delight
at the prospect of arresting Revere once more,
their one, small victory over Longfellow's lore.
It happened again, much as it happened before:
Revere was arrested, though now we all saw.
I considered for a moment changing the past,
with a desperate attempt to help him at last.
But I resisted this impulse to intervene,
for in history there's no changing only one scene,
and there's no telling how it would all turn out,
so my hand was stayed by this gnawing doubt.
We just bid farewell, and took off in our car
and headed to Brookline, which wasn't that far,
retracing his route in the dark down Route 2,
where no sentry challenged, "Halt! Who are you?"
At a mile a minute, we sped all the way down
to the place where he started in Cambridgetown.
Now I thought it was over for me and Revere.
How could I possibly know he'd reappear?
On Sunday, at a concert in Memorial Hall
at Harvard, I glanced at a plaque on the wall,
Him again, I wondered, at the name that I saw?
No, his grandson who fell in the Civil War.
Would we meet once more? Was this somehow foretold?
I couldn't have guessed what the next day would hold,
when in Brookline I screeched to a halt with a cry,
just in time to see William Dawes thundering by.
Few heard his warning, though he smiled in delight
when I shouted that, "You were the hero that night!"
The light turned to green, still I just had to cast
a last look in the mirror projecting our past.
April 19, 2000