Paul Revere

I recently spent two nights in Concord, Massachusetts. I stayed at the Colonial Inn originally built in 1716 and if you let yourself drift into silent thought within the quiet of the early evening you can hear the ancient clank of pewter mugs and muffled conversation of revolution and sedition from the tavern bar down below.

Not too far away was the battle of North Bridge when Colonial minutemen exchanged fire with the British Red Coats and the surge to independence was on.

Just down the road are the graves of many Concord notables. Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Alcott.

Concord is a place where history sings, yet the tune today is modern. It is a quaint village with little shops and an abundance of community life. It’s only nineteen miles from Boston along the old Lexington Road. Paul Revere was headed to Concord and Lexington when he was stopped by British Soldiers.

I found myself rereading Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride. Henry takes a little poetic license since Revere never made it Concord or Lexington. Enjoy.

Paul Revere’s Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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 evermore!
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.


Be My Valentine

Some thoughts on Valentines day.

Are we victims of a manufactured holiday, perpetrated by the greeting card, florists and candy companies?

It would be nice if all these expressions of affection were to last more than just a day. Imagine having less argument and more communication, more love and less selfishness everyday.

Valentines day wasn’t started by the marketing merchants of hype; they only take advantage of our sentimentality. The early Christian church actually proclaimed this event to counter a pagan festival that had a little too much celebration and debauchery for the ascetic beliefs of the time.

Why they chose Saint Valentine to be their champion no one knows for sure. Historically it may be a strange choice. The Valentine who became the Saint and surrogate lover for this day was actually beheaded for his Christian beliefs and became a martyr. Maybe it is appropriate to name the day after him…people in love tend to loose their heads too.


“I’m sorry, I screwed up, it was my mistake, I was young, I was naive, I was stupid,” these are some of the phrases we are hearing in the media today as individual politicians, sports celebrities and business people try to explain away poor choices, bad judgment and “Oh you caught me, I guess I better now tell the truth.” It seems that bailout wealth breeds a curtain over common sense.

The former head of Citigroup took his family on a Christmas holiday in Mexico. That’s fine, but…
It was on a company jet. The price was 12 grand a night and Citigroup had just received a 50-billion dollar federal bailout.

And…the company had just laid off over 50-thousand people worldwide. FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE!

I don’t know if former CEO Sandy Weill paid for the vacation with his own money and whether he reimbursed the company for the jet costs. He may have, but it is the appearance of elitism that irks the American public.

How about Bank of America. It took 45 Billion in our money and hosted a Super Bowl multi day event in Florida.

It goes on and on with the “haves” unaware of the “have nots.”

Most of us have worked hard, saved for the proverbial rainy day and retirement and now because of the arrogance of power each day we lose more of the value we accumulated.

There are no bailouts for individuals and there should not be. We are strong. We’ve been through tough times before and we will get through these Wall Street, banks and Madoff scams a little poorer and a lot smarter.

Here are some little guy considerations:

Accountability and prosecution of those responsible. Part of their punishment, if convicted, is a course in greed management and public service in poor neighborhoods.

Transparency and accountability in all future deals, lending and government largess.

Elimination of all pork programs, and Congressional perks and severe restrictions on all lobbyists.

Compensation limits for any company receiving federal funds and a requirement for all executives to know the name and circumstances of the lowest paid company employee and meet with him or her once a month.

Federal help, not a bailout, for the little guy and each one who receives help is required to read and sign a simplified federal pamphlet on “if I make this much then I can afford this much.

New rules on the distribution of credit cards to the young and limits on lines of credit based on percent of income.

Lock the doors of Congress and leave them locked until a health care program is passed. It works for selecting a Pope.

Internet, Nature and Us

One of the great things about the Internet is that instantaneously you can find out information that is in answer to the question asked.

I remember years ago, when asking my Mother, a teacher, how to spell something or where was this or that was in geography and she would say go check the dictionary or the encyclopedia. She was right to encourage me to find the answer on my own and in the process I would learn how to research or use the dictionary proficiently or some other academic or educational skill.

Today, I can type in a few words into the Google browser on my computer and in a moment, the answer is either there or stemming technology presents thousands of links for me to search for the appropriate answer.

All of this is wonderful and educational providing one has access to a computer and has the knowledge of how to use it, but in this post I’d like to mention another profound attribute of the Internet. It is the ability for any user to instantly see our world and our universe.

This attribute was not available when my Mother sent me to the encyclopedia. Sure, some photos were there, but not in full color or even recent photos and certainly not videos.

I have been a long time proponent of acknowledging nature as part of us. I believe that nature has a sentient component that links to our psyche and sends us messages that we are the nature we appreciate and too often abuse.

These messages come wrapped in the beauty we find everywhere in the flora and fauna — if we choose to see it. The photos attached are evidence of my point.

Season’s Sonnet
© 2000 by Rolland G. Smith

As the seasons pass and each one blends in
From the one that departs, there’s a graceful
Tranquil moment for the new to begin
Emerging from a place invisible.
This enchanting change is expectancy.
A dawning time, neither a first nor last
Just new for seasons are a pregnancy.
A renewing, a birth, a soul recast.
So swaddle the seasons, hold them to see
Summer’s bright fall and the white winter’s spring.
Cradle the change in a sweet harmony
Of changes in song and the new they bring.
Seasons and blending, coming and going,
Blessings of nature ever bestowing.