. from Legends of Liberty Volume 1 . The Battle of Concord By that rude bridge men formed up double file,The company from Acton in the van.Their bayonets cast beams—reverse sundialsDissecting the empire’s diurnal spanThat cast so many shadows on the globe.Their cartridge boxes rattled with black toxin.Then steel unsheathed the sun—a blinding strobeThat led the curving line ahead to box inUnrivaled Reds, eclipsed against the swordThat Captain Isaac Davis lifted to the Lord. A sickly babe was fastened to his brideThat morn when Acton heard of what was planned,And Davis greeted minutemen insideHis kitchen, guns and tomahawks in hand.As a pond teems beneath hard frozen spots,He brooded over breakfast, still, then stoodBefore his wife to seek her eyes with thoughtsOf love he’d meant to share but never could,And said, “Take good care of the children, dear.”He vanished, and she knew he’d never reappear. A hundred redcoats watched the forest lineAdvance now: dirty faces, branches, leavesAll strewn about their forms—men wrapped in vinesFrom setting off through underbrush, their loavesUncooked, cow udders dangling, hats all holed.The Concord woods, though far from Dunsinane,Hid shades of men evoking tales of old. The Brits derailed into a jumbled train.A shaking soldier let his finger slip.A crack rang out; a Yankee felt his coat sleeve rip, They saw the slit well up and start to weep.The kneeling British, like a herd of bullsThat, noticing a hint of red, will sweepThrough streets, destroying shops and trampling skulls,Unleashed their muzzles. Hosmer saw his kin,Young Abner, take a bullet through his top.A high ‘D’ pierced the sky and prickled skinAs Joseph watched the fifer spin and drop.The shining sword that led the van went dark:The eyes of Isaac Davis lost their mellow spark. Shot through the heart, his artery spit outIts bright warm memory on Thomas Thorp.Tom would go on to see the poppies sproutOn Bunker Hill, the sunsets while onboardHis ship that weathered the Penobscot loss,The steaming stains of footprints that would meltThe snow at Valley Forge as he licked moss,The falling leaves at Yorktown—for he felt,With every campaign’s color change, the traceOf all that bright warm red upon his hands and face. The smoke dispersed; The British saw the woodLine still approaching, heard in that paradeThe cry of ‘fire’ from front to rear that wooedBullets from barrels, sent to serenadeTwo officers with promises of marriageTo God: their riddled jackets streamed a trailOf rosy ribbons as behind a carriageOf newlyweds, and, faces turning pale,These young lieutenants, like a pair of doves,Were joined in death and flew to coo on clouds above, But dropped no olive branches down to wave.Three privates rolled into the river, flailedLike flies caught in a soup bowl’s viscous grave,Then floated with the current that prevailed.An Adam’s apple touched a twinkling gorget;A bullet took a bite—so fell that star:A captain who, in uniform, looked gorgeous,Set out for birds to shop his flesh bazaar.Death’s invitations don’t distinguish status:Whether to high or low, she serves her favors gratis. . Why Levi Preston Fought While families ran, Lame Jason Russell hobbledTo guard the little home he called his castle.He crouched behind a parapet he’d cobbledFrom shingles, set to make this siege a hassle.The troops inched towards his walls to make their intro:First wading through the moat that needed weeding,Then past the chamber pots poured from the window,And on across the bridge of dirt, proceedingTo the front gate. Stout Russell fought their reach,But, lanced by bayonets, they battered through the breach. Each room of Russell’s house received its guestsWith cold refreshments spewed from fizzing flutes.One soldier lounged across the couch to rest.Two sat facedown to dine on table fruit. Three sprawled beside the fireplace to roast.Four mattresses eased feet that blisters tortured. The Yankees spared no comfort—gracious hosts! They summoned soldiers out to Russell’s orchard,Where men from Danvers, traveling for miles,Could welcome company behind high apple piles. They spit black seeds into red lumberjacks,Who, waving bayonets like axes, choppedDown minutemen to fill their burlap sacks.Young Levi Preston, watching heads get croppedWhen yielding, fled so not to be interred.What made him fight? What stirred him from his roost?A scholar asked him this years afterward.Long have the low materialists deduced Some economic root they can extract:Was it the tea tax that oppressed him? The stamp act? Preston had never seen a single stamp,And always understood that none were sold.His lips by drops of tea were never damp—The boys threw that stuff overboard, all told.He had some almanacs and the Good Book,But never read Locke’s work on liberty.To him, ‘class consciousness’ was something wokeBy sophists keen to charge a fibber-fee.Young man, here’s what his deeds that day were lent to:He’d governed himself always—and he always meant to. While Plato hailed philosophers as kings,And Shelley urged that poets rule the earth,Unlettered Preston praised the peace that springsFrom farmers reigning over home and hearth.They’d make the world no phantom of their rhymeOr legislate forms intellectual,Restaging history as pantomime With revolutions intersexual.The simple farmer seeks a simple state:The work and love that make a humble acre great. . Poet's Notes The events comprising this chapter were drawn mainly from accounts described in Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer, and Lexington and Concord: The Battle Heard Round the World, by George Daughan. Levi Preston was one of the last survivors of the battle of Concord when, at the age of ninety-one, a young man named Mellen Chamberlain came to interview him. Recounting this interview fifty years later, Chamberlain (now a judge) told the Danvers Historical Society, “At the time of this conversation Captain Preston was a very old man…his words were not many, and with the decline of his faculties, there was not much method in his talk. But several points remain very distinctly in my memory.” These distinctive points seem to have varied somewhat, as Chamberlain gave a few different versions of the interview at different times. Below is one such version. Chamberlain. Captain Preston, what made you go to the Concord fight?Preston. What did I go for?Chamberlain. Yes, my histories tell me that you men of the Revolution took up arms against ‘intolerable oppression.’ What was it?Preston. Oppression? I didn’t feel any that I know of.Chamberlain. Were you not oppressed by the Stamp Act?Preston. I never saw any stamps, and I always understood that none were ever sold.Chamberlain. Well, what about the tea tax?Preston. Tea tax! I never drank a drop of the stuff: the boys threw it all overboard.Chamberlain. But I suppose you had been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?Preston. I never heard of these men. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts’ Psalms, and Hymns and the almanacs.Chamberlain. Well, then, what was the matter?Preston. Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should. . . Andrew Benson Brown was a graduate student at George Mason University before taking too many classes outside his discipline coincided with the reality of Debt. He now works as a children’s caseworker in rural Missouri. In his spare time he reads obscure classics, writes things of little market value, and exercises far more than is befitting for a modern intellectual.