The Revere Public Library challenges the City of Revere!

April 18, 2019

In recognition of Patriots Day 2019 and Patriots Day 2020, the Revere Public Library is challenging everyone to put their memories to work during the next 52 weeks by learning and memorizing the entirety of Longfellow’s famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

Mayor Brian Arrigo praised Library Director Kevin Sheehan for the innovative idea. “Kevin has come up with a fun way for people to get some intellectual exercise and learn about the historical figure after whom our city is named,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “It will take a great deal of effort to learn the poem, but it’s a worthy challenge.”

“It seems that everyone knows the first lines,” said Library Director Sheehan as he recited “’Listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…’ Then he added: “…but then most of us come to a stop.  This is a challenge for everyone, of all age brackets.”

Sheehan has centered the challenge on Patriots Day, commemorating Paul Revere’s famous ride from Boston to Lexington to warn of the invading British Army.  Or, as the poem eloquently says “…Ready to ride and spread the alarm, Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country-folk to be up and to arm.” 

“People in other parts of country might think the holiday honors Tom Brady and the New England Patriots,” Sheehan said with a laugh.  “We in Revere know better.”

Memorizing Longfellow’s poem is not a simple task, and that’s what makes it a challenge.  The poem comprises 14 stanzas containing 972 words.  “The sad truth is,” Sheehan said, “we don’t use our memory faculty as much these days because information is right at our fingertips because of technology.”

“Some things should be remembered, and for residents of Revere, Longfellow’s poem is a famous tribute to the historical figure who shares our name.”

Sheehan’s vision is a year-long contest that will include recruitment in the schools and among civic groups to participate.  The contest will seek individual winners and also teams who can combine their memory power to recite the entire peom.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in 1807 in Portland when Maine was still part of Massachusetts.  He wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride” in 1861.  The poem has remained a favorite in its romanticized depiction of Revere’s famous ride at the start of the American Revolutionary War.

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Brian M. Arrigo
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