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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.


Poet Bio

Born in Boston, Ralph Waldo Emerson followed in his father’s footsteps when he became a Unitarian minister. However, after his young wife died of tuberculosis in 1831, he found his faith shaken. The next year he traveled Europe where he formed the basis of his Transcendentalist philosophy — the intuitive belief in the oneness of the world rather than in scientific rationalism or formal religion. After returning to New England, Emerson published “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “Experience,” the essays that established him as one of the most important thinkers in America.

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