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Ralph Waldo Emerson c1874
Courtesy of The Library of Congress

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
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 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.

(sung at the completion of the Battle Monument
July 4, 1837)


Click to see larger image
Emerson's Home c1900
Courtesy of The Library of Congress

Daniel Chester French Statue
of Ralph Waldo Emerson
in the Concord Free Public Library
French also sculpted the Lincoln Memorial

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, known as the "Sage of Concord," was born in Boston on May 25, 1803. His youth was marked by poverty and sickness. Emerson graduated from Harvard College in 1821 and returned to study at Harvard Divinity School. In 1829, Emerson became a Unitarian minister of the Second Church in Boston. After becoming dissatisfied with his profession, he resigned from the position and traveled throughout Europe. When Emerson returned to the United States in 1833, he began to write and lecture.

In 1836, Emerson wrote Concord Hymn. It is a poem about the Revolutionary War battle fought on April 19,1775 between British and American soldiers. The battle took place in the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. During that same year, he also published his first book, Nature.

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Emerson's Study 1888

Courtesy of The Library of Congress

In the book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, "Henry's friend moved the bookcases in Mr. Emerson's study." This photograph of Emerson's study was taken in 1888. You will notice in the book that the bookcases have handles on the ends. The handles allowed the bookcases to be removed quickly from the house in case there was a fire.

Thoreau was a frequent visitor in the Emerson home. As he carried firewood to the house, he would blow a whistle as a signal for the children to open the door. There was a woodbox just inside the house. As soon as he dropped the wood into the box, the children would hug his knees. They also loved his magic and playful nature.

"This youthful, cheery figure was a familiar one in our house, and when he, like the 'Pied Piper of Hamelin,' sounded his note in the hall, the children must needs come and hug his knees, and he struggled with them, nothing loath, to the fireplace, sat down and told stories, sometimes of the strange adventures of his childhood, or more often of squirrels, muskrats, hawks, he had seen that day, the Monitor-and-Merrimac duel of mud-turtles in the river, or the great Homeric battle of the red and black ants. Then he would make our pencils and knives disappear, and redeem them presently from our ears and noses; and last, would bring down the heavy copper warming-pan from the oblivion of the garret and unweariedly shake it over the blaze till reverberations arose within, and then opening it, let a white-blossoming explosion of popcorn fall over the little people on the rug. Later, this magician appeared often in house or garden and always to charm." - Edward Waldo Emerson from Henry Thoreau as Remembered by a Young Friend.

Emerson died on April 27, 1882 and is buried on Authors' Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery located in Concord.

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