The Harp is the Irish Heart

The harp was a crucial part of Irish identity. As stated in Harpspectrum.org

“Every moment in the history of the tradition was characterized by an impulse to save the tradition and drive it forward, and its survival was largely due to the ingenuity and versatility of Irish harpers to adapt constantly to social and cultural changes”

This is a very important detail to know because without the Irish people’s immense effort to preserve the harp tradition the instrument would have been long forgotten.  This is similar to many native languages that are forgotten after generations adapt to American culture. The harp is a symbol of the endurance Irish culture had.

In “Dear Harp of My Country” by Thomas Moore the first sentence tells a tale of darkness that once existed. That is evident by the words “Dear Harp of My Country! in darkness I found thee” this may be referring to the suffering the Irish endured when the English were in control.  In the second stanza there is a line that states “The cold chain of silence had hung o’er thee long” I believe this can refer to the silence that dominated the Irish when they were discriminated against. in a sense the harp made the beautiful music and noise they could not.

Another line in the poem states “Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill” By stating that it is evident that the Irish were in despair and they harp brought immense happiness to their lives. in keeping the harp tradition alive they were also keeping their hope alive.  That it why the harp was so significant to them.

In the third stanza personification is used as well in the line “Go, sleep, with the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers” It is as if Ireland is telling the harp that it;s job is now done and that after helping Ireland so much it can finally go to rest. This is further developed at the end of the poem  when it appears as if the narrator is telling the harp that Ireland is better. That is concluded by the phrase “DEAR harp of my Country! farewell to thy numbers” where the narrator (who represents Ireland) is saying goodbye to the harp. An interesting aspect of this farewell is that it is very similar to the introduction of the poem. This could mean symbolize a new beginning for the Irish. Essentially the harp was at one point the heart of Ireland.

-Luz Zepeda

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One thought on “The Harp is the Irish Heart

  1. great close reading. I wish you can say some more about the “hello” and “farewell” aspect of the opening and closing lines, which creates this idea of cycle and renewal that ties in well with the artistic recreation of the harp throughout history. Well done!

    Like

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