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Themes

The big-picture history themes are the most important part of "Paul Revere's Ride."  Without the war and the idea of fighting for freedom, the poem wouldn't really have any reason to exist.  Still, this poem also has a quiet side, and there are moments where it even feels like a nature poem.  The nature parts give us a chance to stop, take a breath, and look around.  Again, it's not the main point, but the nature material gives this poem a lot of its quality and helps make it interesting.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What role do you think the quiet natural moments play in the poem?  Why not just make it all about riding and fighting?
  2. The moon shows up a lot in the poem; it's almost like a character.  What effect does the moon have on the atmosphere of the poem?        
  3. Could you write this poem without talking about the natural world at all?
  4. Do you think the description of rivers, bays, the moon, and trees gets in the way of the action?  Would you edit this poem if you could?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Longfellow uses the nature to represent everything that is quiet, everlasting, and unmoved, even in the middle of the tense mood of the night before a revolution.

The rhythm of this poem comes from the water, wind, and moonlight that runs through it.  The sounds and sights of the nature link all the scenes and the actions in the poem together.

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