Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson Poem Analysis


America is the land of the free, but America wasn’t always free. One of the events that made America free was the American Revolution. Many know this event, but to truly understand it, one must relate to those who experienced the American Revolution. “Concord Hymn” lets you experience this war by letting one catch a glimpse of the American Revolution. This poem is about the first shot fired by the minutemen in Concord, Massachusetts, and shows the pride for America that came from the Battle of Concord. Once the war was over, Emerson wanted this moment of the monument being put up to show the commemoration of the American Revolution and to continue this appreciation of the bravery displayed by American colonists. In “Concord Hymn,'' Ralph Waldo Emerson uses visual imagery with poetic diction to effectively show American nationalism and different glimpses into the American Revolution.

In the first stanza, Emerson uses imagery to describe the landscape where the Battle of Concord took place. The first line of this poem says, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood.” One of the phrases that is noticeable in this line is “rude bridge” (1). The definition of “rude” is “simple and elemental” (“Rude”). The bridge had a simple structure, which shows the simplicity of the surrounding area in contrast to the events happening. Back in this time period, much of the land was not founded and didn’t have as largely populated areas like the present day America has. Nationalism was realized in the final line when the soldiers got up and “...fired the shot heard round the world” (4). Although this shot was not really heard around the world, the image created is one of soldiers who were ready to give it their all, which was a considerable deal to the world. This shot signified the American Revolution that eventually made the United States of America and showed to the world that America was a strong country and able to fend for itself. 

After talking about the before and beginning of the war, Emerson starts to talk about the British and the battle itself. Beginning in the first line, Emerson uses the phrase “silence swept” (5). This description of silence creates the image of quietness creeping around the town of Concord. The foes, Britain, were asleep, and the silence was luring the British to comfort. Thus, it kept them from realizing the presence of the colonists. Later in the stanza, Emerson references a bridge again, but uses the word “ruined” before it (7). The similarity between “ruined” and “rude” that Emersons shows is that both of these terms don’t have great meanings to them, and the bridge has continually gotten worse. The bridge was described as a simple structure previously, but now this “simple structure” has continually changed during this“time” (8). This “time” is referenced as the time between the first battle and the moment the citizens memorialized the battlefield, which is referenced in the third stanza. The American Revolution eventually ended during this time on September 3, 1783. In the last line of this stanza, there are the phrases “dark stream” and “seaward creeps'' (8). The words “dark” and “creep” add an eerie feeling to the poem. So when he is using these phrases and imagery, it shows that the old, evil world controlled by Britain was going to be replaced by a new, and bright future. It changes the viewer's state of mind, fuels the hatred for Britain, and is looking forward to this bright future.

The transition from the time of war to after the war presents a new shift of thinking and in turn, imagery. In the first line of the third stanza, the poem says “On this green bank, by this soft stream” (9). By using the words “green” and “soft,” there is a great contrast presented from the previous words “ruined,” “dark,” and “creeps.” The reader is now in a safe place instead of the previous place of darkness. He also uses the word “stream” (9). Stream is often thought of as flowing, crisp water. This image enforces the new idea of America being a flowing, flourishing place now that the British are gone. In the last sentence of the third stanza, he uses the word “sires” to show that the King is gone, but also the brave men and women are gone (12). The monument mentioned in line two is put up in commemoration of the American Revolution and these soldiers. By creating the monument, the idea of this battle being important is once again enforced. Through imagery and diction in this stanza, the idea of freedom and respect for these soldiers are brought to a positive light of thankfulness. 

After showing the end of the war and the monument that is put up, “Concord Hymn” ends with an image of gratefulness. The first line says, “Spirit, that made those heroes dare” (13). It contrasts the earlier descriptions of the colonists which said “embattled farmers'' (3). The image of a ragged farmer is now replaced by this idea of someone who is of high placement and royalty. It arouses the emotions of remembrance of these brave men and women. In the last two lines, the speaker asks God to ask “Time and Nature” (15) to spare the monument they put up. The terms “time” and “nature” are substantial concepts of reality, so using them in the same sentence as the monument creates the image of an extremely important symbol in American history. The author is wanting this monument to stay up forever to show the remembrance of these men and women who died in this war, which helped create this free country called America. This whole stanza uses imagery to arouse the American nationalism by making us appreciate and remember the heroic acts of our past colonists. 

Knowing how this poem uses imagery allows one to better understand war and brings about a newfound appreciation for those who bravely fought. Through reading this poem, one should become grateful for this country and arouses this sense of “American Nationalism.” Additionally, one should care about this poem because it gives details about the Battle of Concord and shows the monument that was put up for those who died in this war. This poem was written for the dedication of the monument Obelisk, in commemoration of the Battle of Concord (“Concord Hymn”). Through emotionally charged language and imagery in every stanza, the author successfully conveys his message of American nationalism and different glimpses into the Battle of Concord.

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