“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,Ralph Waldo Emerson
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 spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 25, 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a key early American philosopher, essayist, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-nineteenth century.  Although he attended Harvard Divinity School and served as a pastor, a number of close and personal deaths, including that of his young wife Ellen, caused him to split with the church and turn toward lecturing.  A friend and mentor of Henry David Thoreau, Emerson lectured throughout the country on topics such as nature, individualism, and slavery.  He wrote “Concord Hymn” in 1837 for the dedication of the Obelisk, a monument commemorating the Battle of Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775 at the outbreak of the American Revolution.  The poem celebrates the North Bridge that stood over the Concord River, which served as a battle line between the Minutemen and the British Army.  This short but powerful poem solidified Emerson’s status as a great poet and introduced the world to a well-known moniker of the Revolutionary War, “the shot heard round the world.”