In a world as vast and large as ours, with so many peoples and groups, it seems everyone desires some form of identity, a grounding sense that they belong to a specific place or group. For Ireland, however, the harp was something much more than just an identity. Struggling through prejudice and exclusion, the Irish were the silenced voices of Europe, particularly with the British. One of the highlighted issues for the Irish was their lack of voice, the absence of attention when an Irishman or woman spoke. Even so, there was a common ground that elevated the status of the Irish: the harp. Said harp became something more than just a beautiful form of music, a smooth and delicate piece of art. The harp became a symbol for the very silence the Irish were forced to go through – a hope that the beauty of the Irish would come to light, and be just as capable of being appreciated as the harp.
This reflection can be seen in Thomas Moore’s “Dear Harp of My Country”, where this metaphorical and literal sound, Ireland’s voice, is particularly relevant in the imagery the poet creates. Right from the first line, Moore says that the beloved harp was “[found] in darkness”. The harp is artfully crafted and is a pretty sight, but in the poem its image is not highlighted as the primary source of its beauty: sound. One cannot obviously see in the darkness, but the aspect of the harp that must have drawn the poet is its sound. From this, one can take that Moore indeed sees Ireland as beautiful, but is more concerned for a certain sound, a voice, to be heard, as it is how he found the harp in the first place. Sound is once again highlighted through the seventh line, with ”But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness”. The deep sigh of the harp can be imagined as the sigh of a country who has been ignored, a sigh of dismay and disappointment. This sigh, a specific sound, likewise continues the notion that the country is being silenced, a sigh is nothing to the surrounding nations.
Ultimately, one can argue about just how beautiful the harp or Ireland is, but this poem is not just about a cry for attention for a pretty sight of a country. Moore is discretely writing for both appreciation of Ireland and respect for its voice. Ireland is not just a pretty sight, the “Harp of [Irish] Country” is something that must be heard and respected accordingly, not just seen and silenced for its beauty. The harp is not just a symbol of pride, but likewise represents a voice, and that very voice has been silenced for too long.