'Concord Hymn' by Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument,
April 19th, 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 that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today 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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
An Immortal Ode to the Heroes of Concord
As I sit down to pen my thoughts on Ralph Waldo Emerson's Concord Hymn, I cannot help but feel a certain awe and reverence for the poet's magnum opus. For, in just sixteen lines, Emerson has immortalized an event of great historical significance - the Battle of Concord - and paid homage to the brave souls who fought and died for the cause of freedom.
But before I delve into the intricacies of this poem, let us first understand the context in which it was written. Emerson wrote Concord Hymn in 1837, on the occasion of the dedication of the Obelisk, a monument erected in honor of the patriots who fell in the Battle of Concord on April 19, 1775. This battle was a pivotal moment in the American Revolution, marking the first armed resistance by the colonists against the British forces and paving the way for the eventual independence of the United States.
Now, coming back to the poem itself, I am struck by the simplicity and elegance of the language used by Emerson. The poem follows a hymn-like structure, with four-line stanzas and a rhyme scheme of ABAB. The tone is reverential and solemn, as befits a hymn, but there is also a sense of pride and exultation in the way Emerson celebrates the heroism of the patriots.
Let us now examine each stanza in detail:
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 first stanza sets the scene for the poem, and what a scene it is! Emerson transports us to the banks of the Concord River, where we can almost see the "rude bridge" that spans the water. He then brings to life the image of the "embattled farmers" who stood on that bridge, unfurled their flag, and fired the "shot heard round the world". This phrase has become so iconic that it is now synonymous with the Battle of Concord itself, and Emerson's use of it is nothing short of masterful.
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.
The second stanza is a stark contrast to the first, as Emerson reminds us that both the British forces and the American patriots who fought them are no more. The "foe" and the "conqueror" are now silent, as they rest in their graves, and the "ruined bridge" has been swept away by the inexorable march of time. This stanza is a poignant reminder of the transience of human life and the impermanence of all things, even great victories and defeats.
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.
The third stanza is where Emerson's genius truly shines. He is not content to merely lament the passing of the heroes of Concord; he wants to ensure that their memory lives on for generations to come. And how does he do that? By dedicating a "votive stone" on the "green bank" by the "soft stream" where they once stood. This stone serves as a physical reminder of their sacrifice, but it also represents something more - a commitment to honor their legacy and pass it down to future generations. By using the word "votive", Emerson also imbues this act of remembrance with a religious significance, as if the stone were a kind of altar on which to offer prayers to the fallen.
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.
The final stanza is a kind of prayer, addressed to the very spirit of heroism that inspired the patriots of Concord to "dare to die" or "leave their children free". Emerson asks this spirit to watch over the monument that has been erected in their honor, and to ensure that it is not destroyed by the ravages of time and nature. The use of the word "shaft" to describe the obelisk is interesting, as it conjures up images of a spear or arrow, perhaps symbolizing the idea that the monument is a weapon against forgetfulness and apathy.
In conclusion, Concord Hymn is a masterpiece of American poetry, a stirring tribute to the heroes of Concord and a call to future generations to remember their sacrifice. Emerson's use of simple language and hymn-like structure belies the complexity of his ideas, which touch on themes of history, memory, and the human spirit. The poem is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope, always a chance to stand up for what is right, and always the possibility of greatness.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Concord Hymn: A Poetic Ode to the American Revolution
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the renowned American poet and philosopher, penned the Concord Hymn in 1837 to commemorate the Battle of Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775, during the American Revolution. The poem is a stirring tribute to the brave patriots who fought for their freedom and independence against the British Empire. In this article, we will delve into the meaning and significance of the Concord Hymn and explore its relevance to American history and culture.
The Concord Hymn is a short but powerful poem that captures the spirit and essence of the American Revolution. It begins with the iconic line, "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled," which sets the scene for the battle that took place at Concord's North Bridge. The "rude bridge" refers to the wooden bridge that spanned the Concord River, which the British soldiers had to cross to reach the town of Concord. The "flag" that was unfurled was the American flag, which symbolized the colonists' defiance and determination to fight for their rights and liberties.
The second stanza of the poem describes the "embattled farmers" who stood their ground against the British troops and fired the "shot heard round the world." This phrase has become synonymous with the American Revolution and is often used to describe the pivotal moment when the colonists declared their independence from British rule. The "embattled farmers" were ordinary men who had taken up arms to defend their homes and families from the British soldiers. They were not professional soldiers but were motivated by their love of freedom and their desire to protect their way of life.
The third stanza of the poem pays tribute to the fallen soldiers who gave their lives for the cause of liberty. Emerson writes, "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." This stanza is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that were made by the patriots who fought for their country's independence. It is also a call to future generations to honor and remember the brave men and women who fought for their freedom.
The final stanza of the poem is a call to action for all Americans to continue the fight for liberty and justice. Emerson writes, "Here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world. Here the free spirit of mankind, at length, shall reign alone." This stanza is a powerful statement of hope and optimism for the future of America. It reminds us that the struggle for freedom and justice is ongoing and that we must continue to fight for these values.
The Concord Hymn is not just a poem; it is a symbol of American history and culture. It represents the spirit of the American Revolution and the values that the country was founded upon. The poem has been recited at countless patriotic events and has become a part of the American national identity. It is a reminder of the sacrifices that were made by the patriots who fought for their freedom and a call to future generations to continue the fight for liberty and justice.
In conclusion, the Concord Hymn is a timeless masterpiece that captures the essence of the American Revolution. It is a tribute to the brave patriots who fought for their freedom and independence and a call to action for all Americans to continue the fight for liberty and justice. The poem is a symbol of American history and culture and has become a part of the national identity. As we celebrate the Fourth of July and reflect on the values that make America great, let us remember the Concord Hymn and the sacrifices that were made by those who came before us.
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