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Friday's Poem - Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" - in honor of the upcoming Patriot's Day celebrations


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was a founding force behind the Transcendentalist movement of the mid 19th century. He was a preacher and lecturer in Concord Massachusetts who gained international notoriety through his series of essays on nature and humanity. He was closely associated with other Transcendentalist thinkers including Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau. He was also an early reader and supporter of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). The “Concord Hymn” was written to be sung at the commemoration of the monument at the Concord Bridge—the second stage of the battle of Lexington and Concord, fought April 19, 1775. This was the first skirmish in the American Revolutionary War. The Bay State commemorates this battle annually with the Patriot’s Day holiday on the third Monday in April. Festivities include reenactments and parades in both Lexington and Concord and, of course, the running of the Boston Marathon. The first verse of this hymn is engraved in the base of the Concord Minuteman Statue by Daniel Chester French (erected 1875).

Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument
April 19, 1836

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, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.