The Harpers

Thomas Moore’s, “Dear Harp of My Country” demonstrated an example of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries significance of the Irish harp. The Irish harp is used in many contemporary Irish politics, society, and culture. The first two lines are examples of political use of the harp, “DEAR Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee, The cold chain of silence had hung o’er thee long,” (1-2) The darkness looming in silence represents the current state of Ireland, however the coldness is broken with the winged-maiden harp and Protestant Ascendancy to become the dominant political power in Ireland. Moving onto the next two lines it appeared the culture of Ireland was being described. “When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee, And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song!”(3-4) The island harp is the Irish Harp relating to the fact the country is an island and when the harp is musically played it releases Ireland’s cultural expressions of light, freedom, and song. Furthermore, the social injustices of the extreme poverty of the native Irish were depicted.  “The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill; But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness, That ev’n in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.” (5-8) In these lines the Irish Harp is the positive light or note of gladness for the indignant voice of Ireland’s the deep sigh of sadness(poor). As we move on to lines 9-12 the theme of culture continues. “Dear Harp of my Country! farewell to thy numbers, This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine! Go, sleep with the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers, Till touch’d by some hand less unworthy than mine;” (9-12) farewell to old Irish original beauty that meant so much to the Irish culture. The harp has transitioned to Irish tradition to newly- invented instrument which is now portable and influenced by design and technique of European pedal harp. This new European popularity is the hand less worthy of the Irishman.

-Dario Lomeli


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