For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-concord-hymn 😊
The American Revolution began on the 19th of April in 1775 when local militiamen in the towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, offered forcible resistance to a British attempt to seize colonial stores of arms and ammunition. By the end of that day, 49 Americans and 73 British soldiers had been killed, and a war had begun.
Why not memorize this week, with your homeschool students, the famous opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” which is our homeschool poem-of-the-week every year for this third week of April. It was written for and first read (sung, actually) at the town of Concord’s Independence Day celebration in 1837 when the first battle monument was dedicated at Concord’s North Bridge, and it describes quite precisely the geographical setting of that day:
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, or leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
When you first approach a new poem or look more carefully at an old and familiar poem, encourage your students to look at structure as well as meaning. If you count the syllables, you’ll find that “Concord Hymn” is indeed written in one of the standard hymn meters: “long meter” or “eights-and-eights.” Each line has exactly eight syllables, and the rhyme scheme follows a simple ABAB pattern, which makes the poem easy to recite and remember.
Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” is one of the most famous of all American history poems, and it has been studied in schools and beloved by Americans of all ages for generations. Be sure to make it part of your students’ store of literary knowledge.
What wonderful words have you found and what literary discoveries have you made in your homeschool this week? 😊
❡ The shot heard round the world: If a special line or turn of phrase happens to strike you in one of our weekly poems, just copy it onto your homeschool bulletin board for a few days and invite your students to speak it aloud — that’s all it takes to begin a new poetical friendship and learn a few lovely words that will stay with you for life.
❡ Explore more: For a quick review of the beginning of the American Revolution, turn to page 289 in your River Houses history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books).
❡ Explore more: The Poetry Foundation’s website includes biographical notes and examples of the work of many important poets (including Ralph Waldo Emerson) that are suitable for high school students and homeschool teachers.
❡ Here, said the year: This post is one of our regular homeschool poems-of-the-week. Print your own River Houses Poetry Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us as we visit forty-eight of our favorite friends. 😊