The poem is spoken by the landlord of the Wayside Inn and tells a partly fictionalized story of Paul Revere. In the poem, Revere tells a friend to prepare signal lanterns in the Old North Church to inform him if the British will attack by land or sea. He would await the signal across the river in Charlestown and be ready to spread the alarm throughout Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The unnamed friend climbs up the steeple and soon sets up two signal lanterns, informing Revere that the British are coming by sea. Revere rides his horse through Medford, Lexington, and Concord to warn the patriots.
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