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.
Summary of Concord Hymn
- Popularity of “Concord Hymn”: Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great American poet, and philosopher, wrote Concord Hymn. The original title was Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837. It is a superb literary composition about freedom. It was mainly written during the dedication of the Obelisk, a monument in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1837. It honors the Battle of Concord fought on April 19, 1775, at the outbreak of the American Revolution. The poem recalls and acknowledges the sacrifices of those common men who took up arms in the hope to retaliate against British forces.
- “Concord Hymn” As a Representative of Courage: The poem commemorates the brave men who fought courageously at the battles of Concord and Lexington. The poem describes the historical background to the great moment and its significance. The speaker attempts to describe the bridge where American farmers volunteered as soldiers and fought the great historical war. He adds that many years have passed since this incident but its memory and those grave sacrifices are still remembered and adored. They fought for freedom and left freedom for their future generations to enjoy. Therefore, the flag is raised in the memory of those martyrs who sacrificed their precious lives to spread the light of freedom. The poem also tells about the undaunted struggle and bravery of those who safeguarded their nation in the need of the hour.
- Major Themes in “Concord Hymn”: Courage, war and war memorials are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker pays tribute to those common men who safeguard their nation at the time of difficulty and won freedom for the upcoming generations. First, the speaker reenacts the American Revolution, the battle and the place where it took place, and later sheds light on the patriotic dedication of the farmers, who left their homes to fight for a noble cause and glory for the nation. Therefore, to pay tribute to those departed souls, a flag is raised on the same bridge every year.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Concord Hymn”
Literary devices are tools that the writers use to create meanings in their texts. It is through these devices they convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. Ralph Emerson has also used a few literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is given below.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /ee/ in “That memory may their deed redeem,” and the sound of /i/ in “When, like our sires, our sons are gone”.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /s/ in “The foe long since in silence slept” and “Alike the conqueror silent sleeps” and the sound of /th/ in “The shaft we raise to them and thee”.
- Apostrophe: An apostrophe is a device used to call somebody or something from afar. Here the poet has used an apostrophe to call those who lost their lives in the ballet such as; “Spirit, that made those heroes dare.”
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,
“Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.”
- Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. For example, in the fourth line “And fired the shot heard round the world.” Here, the poet exaggerates about the battle.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood”, “We set today a votive stone” and “Here once the embattled farmers stood.”
- Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to non-human things. For example, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood.” Here, the bridge is personified in the first line of the poem.
- Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare an object or a person with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “When, like our sires, our sons are gone.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. The flag in the second line symbolizes the British flag.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Concord Hymn”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme in the poem such as; “stream/redeem”, “stone/gone” and “dare/spare.”
- Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is a quatrain.
- Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. In this poem, there are four stanzas with each stanza having four verses.
Quotes to be Used
The lines stated below are useful for a speech delivered to appreciate the soldiers.
“Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free.”