Ralph Waldo Emerson was a celebrated American author, poet, philosopher, and public speaker. He became the leader of a famous intellectual movement known as transcendentalism. Emerson had strong ties to the beginning of America’s fight for independence. His grandfather was present at the opening battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. His family home was also located next to the battlefield site.
“Concord Hymn” was written originally as a song for the dedication of the Obelisk, a monument commemorating the valiant effort of those who fought in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The gunshot which began this battle is considered the beginning of America’s fight for independence, and is referred to by Emerson as “the shot heard round the world.” This phrase has since become famous and is often used in discussions of the American Revolution.
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.