Sunday, April 18, 2010

The midnight run of Pokey Lunn

In honor of this week's anniversary of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, and the beginning of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord, we present a slightly different version of events: The Midnight Run of Pokey Lunn.

Listen young pups to a tale of fun
The midnight run of Pokey Lunn,
On the eighteenth of April, in Twenty-ten;
All the dogs who saw it for as long as they live
Will remember forever what Pokey done.

He barked to the Brigade, "If the Princess march
By land or sea from the dog park to-night,
Hang a light aloft in the doghouse arch
Of the Pup 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 run and bark the alarm
Through every Tanner Brigade village in the dark,
For our Minute Dogs to be up and ready to bark."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled arf
Silently dog paddeled to the Charlestown wharf,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, the Princess 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 brother Cooper through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with pointed ears,
With his great hearing he learns
The Princess' dogs bark at the doggy door,
The sound of licks, and the tramp of paws,
And the measured scratching of fur,
Marching down to their boats with flea bitten burs.

Then Cooper climbed the tower of the Old Pup Church,
By the wooden stairs, with pitty-pat tread,
To the doggy door overhead,
And startled the Hammies from their perch
On the wooden spinning wheel, that round him made
Running and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, wishing he was tall,
To the couch by the window in the wall,
Where he jumped up and looked down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, waited Roland,
Digging with Savannah for bones on the hill,
While snoozing near them was a snoring Nigel
That Cooper could hear, loud enough to raise the dead,
While on the lookout were Foley and Pocket
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to grunt, "All is well!"
Until Pocket didn't see the hole and fell
And Foley pulled her out and decided to go to bed
"All's quiet here tonight," to Cooper she said
But Cooper paid no mind, his nose picking up a scent
On a familiar smell something far away,
Where the river widens stood Hattie Mae,--
Pointing to a line of black that bent and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to run and ride,
Harnessed and leashed, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Pokey Lunn.
Now he licked his furry side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Nervously Pokey, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his harness girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old Pup Church,
As it rose above the playing pups on the hill,
Digging for bones and Nigel snoring still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
His brother Copper lights the match and turns,
Pokey lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of paws in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a pup in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, shooting from MacDougal's butt
Pokey struck out by paws flying fearless and fleet;
He was off faster than the speed of light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by Pokey's paws, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village with and jump and a leap,
The water, tranquil and broad and deep,
Over the Mystic River, meeting the ocean tides;
High in the air Pokey made it to the edge,
Landing soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
And off to gather the Brigade he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Tanner town.
He heard the howlin of the Rock,
And the barking of the Bridge's dogs,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When Pokey sprinted into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
And buried his eyes as the naughty bit passed,
And the Puppy-house windows, was a smiling Honey Bear,
Keeping lookout with strong Baron aka Bear,
As they were relieved to see Pokey at last
As they prepared for the battle to come at dawn.

It was two by the village clock,
When Pokey leaped on to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And wondered what bleating could possibly be,
Pokey smelled the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over his fur so brown.
And wished he was safe and asleep in his bed
And not on the bridge months from the fall,
And then remembered what his Mommy said,
To always come when she did call.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the Princess Regulars fired and fled,---
How the Brigade gave them bone for bone,
From behind each fence and freshly cut lawn,
Chasing the Princess down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to bark and load.

So through the night rode Pokey Lunn;=
And so through the night went his bark of alarm
To every Middlesex doggy park and farm,---
A bark of defiance, and not of fear,
A yip in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a howl that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all pup history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The paws will waken and listen and run
The hurrying paw-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Pokey Lunn.

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