Concord Hymn Glosa

The Minute Man, by JeromeG111 (from Flickr, CC-licensed)
The Minute Man, Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by JeromeG111

This Patriots’ Day week, we mourn for the victims of the explosions in Boston. I’m not a native Bostonian, but I’m a Bostonian now: my emotions have fluctuated between deep sorrow and deep anger that someone would do this to my city, to my fellow Bostonians. I’m so thankful for our police officers, firefighters, National Guard, and all the first responders.

To celebrate the patriots of Massachusetts, from minute men in 1775 to first responders in 2013, I offer this glosa on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.”


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.

Invention on a Concord Hymn

The barely risen sun hung reflected in the river,
Two lanterns in the still-silent gray of dawn.
The growing light showed spring burst from Winter—
A violent wrenching of color from snow, flower
From deadness; eager water shattering the panes of
Cold glass encasing the river; ice turned to mud
On its banks. There, where philosophy and letters
Gave way to contraband (though secreted away
Some days ago), delicate crocuses began to bud
By the rude bridge that arched the flood.

The night before, the bridge had shivered
As a horse beat down its planks, the rider
Crouched low on its flanks. At the Emerson Manse
He pulled up. Pounding on the reverend’s door,
He called, “The Regulars are coming out! Coming!”
He pounded again; then, without another word,
He rode to the next house, and the next, and the next.
By sunrise, the townships for twenty miles out
Heard the news; the minute men, in Concord,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled.

The men who came brought their muskets oiled,
Their cartouches full, and their lives ready,
To give them all—Death to Tyranny!
Some saw the flaws in politics, kings, and Acts;
Some thought only that goods cost more, and work
Paid less, because of England. Muster they would,
Here, where intrusions by Gage freshly stung,
Here, where they worked their farms with their sons,
Here, they’d keep freedoms by force if they could;
Here once the embattled farmers stood.

The news—“The Redcoats come from Lexington!”
Sent the minute men to the hill to watch them come.
They watched as Concord-town fell (it seemed)
To the Regulars. Said one Patriot, “I’m not afraid,”
So they advanced on the bridge, but did not fire.
The Redcoats, surprised, formed ranks, but one misheard
And fired his gun across the bridge. The others fired;
Two Patriots fell, but still they advanced on the bridge.
At last the Patriots stopped, at the captain’s word,
And fired the shot heard round the world.


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