By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to Aprilâ€™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.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
( Emerson wrote “Concord Hymn” in 1836 for the dedication of the Obelisk, a battle monument that commemorated the men that gave their lives at the Battle of Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775), the first battle of the American Revolution.
One source of its power may be Emerson personal ties to the subject. His grandfather fought in the Battle of Concord and Lexington. The family house, The Old Manse, is next to the bridge mentioned in the poem, and the author wrote the hymn while living there.)
“Concord, Mag, I think we should go to Concord.”
“What’s important about Concord, Bob?Â What does it have?Â Where is it.”
“Just about an hour drive north of here.Â West of Boston.Â Let me see, Walden Pond, Louisa May Alcott’s house AND the old North Bridge.”
“North Ridge, Bob, what’s that?”
“Not ridge, Mag, BRIDGE.Â You know, it’s the place where embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world.”
“We didn’t hear it in Australia, Bob.”
Though according to Mag, the aborigines did not hear “the shot heard ’round the world”, nevertheless once Magi heard “battlefield”, he was game for going to Concord.Â We had a lovely afternoon exploring the Minute Man National Park.Â Earlier in the day, we had gone to Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, the Wayside Inn, Walden Pond and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne and the Alcotts are buried.
Next door is the Old Manse, home to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather.
“Between two tall gate-posts of rough-hewn stone, (the gate itself having fallen from its hinges, at some unknown epoch,) we beheld the gray front of the old parsonage, terminating the vista of an avenue of black ash trees. It was now a twelvemonth since the funeral procession of the venerable clergyman, its last inhabitant, had turned from that gate-way towards the village burying-ground. The wheel-track, leading to the door, as well as the whole breadth of the avenue, was almost overgrown with grass, affording dainty mouthfuls to two or three vagrant cows, and an old white horse, who had his own living to pick up along the roadside. The glimmering shadows, that lay half-asleep between the door of the house and the public highway, were a kind of spiritual medium, seen through which, the edifice had not quite the aspect of belonging to the material world. Certainly it had little in common with those ordinary abodes, which stand so imminent upon the road that every passer-by can thrust his head, as it were, into the domestic circle. From these quiet windows, the figures of passing travellers looked too remote and dim to disturb the sense of privacy. In its near retirement, and accessible seclusion, it was the very spot for the residence of a clergyman; a man not estranged from human life, yet enveloped, in the midst of it, with a veil woven of intermingled gloom and brightness. It was worthy to have been one of the time-honored parsonages of England, in which, through many generations, a succession of holy occupants pass from youth to age, and bequeath each an inheritance of sanctity to pervade the house and hover over it, as with an atmosphere.”
~ from Mosses from an Old Manse, 1854 by Nathaniel Hawthorne~
The lawns behind the Old Manse leading down to the Emerson’s boat house on the North River.
Boathouse seen from Old North Bridge.
Earlier in the day we had visited Emerson’s home in the village of Concord, across from the Concord Museum.
In our next photo/essay we we amble through Concord town as well as visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to see Author’s Ridge.
Photos by Magi and Bob.