Friday, April 19, 2019

Weakly Reader By Warren Sparrow

The Weakly Reader
Volume V, No. 1
Forest City, North Carolina
18 April 2019
From the Town of Forest City, North Carolina, I welcome you on this bright April
morning to the latest edition of The Weakly Reader. What a month this April has been. In the
aftermath of the Notre Dame fire, many folks are having a hard time saying “Happy Easter.” To
make matters more unsettling came the strange behavior of a woman obsessed with the
Columbine massacre of 20 years ago. We still have 13 days to go!
Amidst all this angst let us not forget “that famous day and year.” Yes, it was “the
Eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five,” according to Longfellow who wrote about it 85 years later
(April 19, 1860). We all know the story of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. How long has it been
since you read Longfellow’s account? I am not sure I ever read “the whole thing”… until
The Weakly Reader humbly presents the following abridged version of “The Midnight
Ride of Paul Revere:”
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.
(Paul tells his pal to hang a lantern or two, etc.)
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 mooring 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.
(Paul’s pal wanders through town, looking for clues.)
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber 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, Paul is antsy, waiting for the signal from his pal.)
And lo! As he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer 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.
(Paul is on his way. In Bedford he hears the crowing of a cock, the barking of a farmer’s dog.)
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,--
How the farmer’s gave them ball for ball….
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.
There you have it. Big April: Easter and The Midnight Ride, together By the way,
both events needed someone to spread the word. Who? Naturally, two guys with the same
name: Paul.
Thanks for listening. Happy Easter and God bless America!
The Weakly Reader
Warren Sparrow, Editor and Publisher
165 Fox Run Road, Forest City, NC 28043