They came three thousand miles, and died, to keep the Past upon its throne

Ah yes another Patriots Day, when the Marathoners run and the Red Sox play and here in Concord we pause to reflect…

From: “The British Grenadiers” ~ A Traditional Marching Song

“Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules

Of Hector and Lysander, and some of Miltiades

But of all the world’s brave heroes, there’s none that can compare

With a tow row row row row

To the British grenadiers…”

From: “Concord Hymn” ~ 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…”


From: “Lines suggested by the graves of the two English soldiers on Concord Battleground” ~ James Russell Lowell

“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…”

This song is a track from E.L. Kurtz’s 2007 album,  “A Soldier’s Journey” 

Here are all the lines in full:

“The British Grenadiers”

“Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,

Of Hector and Lysander, and some of Meltiades.

But of all the world’s brave heros, there’s none that can compare

With a tow row row row row

To the British grenadiers.

 Now none of these ancient heros ever saw a cannon ball

Or knew the force of powder to slay their foes withal,

But our brave boys do now them and banish all their fears

With a tow row row row row

To the British grenadiers

 Whenever we are commanded to storm the palisades

Our leaders march with fusils and we with hand grenades

We hurl them from the glacis, about our enemies’ ears

With a tow row row row row

To the British grenadiers

 The God of War was pleased and great Bellona smiles

To see these noble heroes of our British Isles

And all the Gods celestial, descending from their spheres,

Beheld with adoration

The British grenadiers

 Now let us crown a bumper and drink a health to those,

Who carry caps and pouches and wear the loup’ed clothes

May they and their commanders live happy all their years

With a tow row row row row

To the British grenadiers

“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.

 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 to-day a votive stone;

That memory may their deed redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

 Spirit, that made those spirits dare,

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

“Lines suggested by the graves of the two English soldiers on Concord Battleground”

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’erheard 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 flight;

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 humblest soldiers for the Right! —

Age after age ye hold your post,

Your graves send courage forth, and might.

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