Gateway to the Classics: Historic Poems and Ballads by Rupert S. Holland
Historic Poems and Ballads by  Rupert S. Holland

Concord Hymn

T HIS poem was written to be sung as a hymn at the completion of the monument erected on the bank of the Concord River in Massachusetts April 19, 1836. It was there that the colonial minutemen withstood the British regulars on April 19, 1775, and, as Emerson says, "fired the shot heard round the world," beginning the War of American Independence.

Emerson's grandfather, William Emerson, was a minister at Concord in 1775, and had strongly urged resistance to the British in his sermons. He himself stood with the farmers by the bridge, saying to the minutemen, "Let us stand our ground. If we die, let us die here."

The battle took place near the minister's own house, which was afterwards the home of his grandson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne gave it fame as "The Old Manse" of his writings.

Concord Hymn

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We set to-day a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

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