Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed
- An hour later and he's in Lexington.
- The regular timing of the ride gives the poem its rhythm here. We can feel the hours race by as Paul rides.
- Again we get a few little details. Paul notices the weathercock (the metal bird people sometimes put on their houses to show the direction of the wind). Again, the moonlight is a big deal, helping to set the mood in the poem.
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
- Lexington is the setting for one of the battles that will take place when the sun rises the next morning.
- Longfellow does a neat thing here, playing with the time in the poem. We know the battle of Lexington is coming, so he acts for a moment like the windows of the town know it too. He treats them like faces that are watching Paul as he rides and are horrified ("aghast") at the violence ("the bloody work") they will see in the morning. It's a cool, creepy touch.