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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Concord (Musketaquid), Mass.

Lines Suggested by the Graves of Two English Soldiers on Concord Battle-ground

By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

THE SAME good blood that now refills

The dotard Orient’s shrunken veins,

The same whose vigor westward thrills,

Bursting Nevada’s silver chains,

Poured here upon the April grass,

Freckled with red the herbage new;

On reeled the battle’s trampling mass,

Back to the ash the bluebird flew.

Poured here in vain;—that sturdy blood

Was meant to make the earth more green,

But in a higher, gentler mood

Than broke this April noon serene;

Two graves are here: to mark the place,

At head and foot, an unhewn stone,

O’er which the herald lichens trace

The blazon of Oblivion.

These men were brave enough, and true

To the hired soldier’s bull-dog creed;

What brought them here they never knew,

They fought as suits the English breed:

They came three thousand miles, and died,

To keep the Past upon its throne;

Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,

Their English mother made her moan.

The turf that covers them no thrill

Sends up to fire the heart and brain;

No stronger purpose nerves the will,

No hope renews its youth again:

From farm to farm the Concord glides,

And trails my fancy with its flow;

O’erhead the balanced hen-hawk slides,

Twinned in the river’s heaven below.

But go, whose Bay State bosom stirs,

Proud of thy birth and neighbor’s right,

Where sleep the heroic villagers

Borne red and stiff from Concord fight;

Thought Reuben, snatching down his gun,

Or Seth, as ebbed the life away,

What earthquake rifts would shoot and run

World-wide from that short April fray?

What then? With heart and hand they wrought,

According to their village light;

’T was for the Future that they fought,

Their rustic faith in what was right.

Upon earth’s tragic stage they burst

Unsummoned, in the humble sock;

Theirs the fifth act; the curtain first

Rose long ago on Charles’s block.

Their graves have voices: if they threw

Dice charged with fates beyond their ken,

Yet to their instincts they were true,

And had the genius to be men.

Fine privilege of Freedom’s host,

Of even foot-soldiers for the Right!—

For centuries dead, ye are not lost,

Your graves send courage forth, and might.