The Harp and A Call to Action

Henry Louis Vivioan Derozio’s “The Harp of India,”  uses the illustration of the harp as a means to comment on and explore colonialism and Irish history. The poem reflects Derozio’s personal position of being mixed race through his idealization of the harp’s beauty and his own reflection of his identity. This reflection parallels the symbolism of the harp in that, historically Irish peoples were labeled as uncivilized by the English and held bad reputations. On this note, the Irish people related their experiences and identities to that of the beauty and elegance of this instrument. Derozio is essentially speaking out against the impact English politics, imperialism, and colonialism had on not only the Irish, but the entire world.

Derozio writes:

“Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;

Thy music once was sweet- who hears it now?”

In these lines the harp is used to symbolize Irish culture; what was, yet what is now impacted by English influence. The harp becomes a political weapon that not only exemplifies grace but serves as a reminder to fight against and speak up against all forms of oppression that destroyed/ tried to destroy what they found to be, such beauty.

Derozio continues to write:

“Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave,

And many a wreath for them did Fame entwine

Of Flowers still blooming on the minstrel’s grave:

Those hands are cold- but if thy notes divine

May be by mortal wakened once again

Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!”

The ending of this poem proves to be an affirmation for the push for political reform as a means to return to original Irish Culture. Derozio speaks to the past, but provides a call of action to his people in the last line to fight for and maintain a sense of national pride.

-Angelica Costilla

6 thoughts on “The Harp and A Call to Action

  1. In this blog post I found the thesis to be the first sentence:
    “Henry Louis Vivioan Derozio’s “The Harp of India,” uses the illustration of the harp as a means to comment on and explore colonialism and Irish history.”
    I think the thesis poses an interesting point of view and then the rest of the post does a great job of backing up the claims. Angelica, does a great job of explaining her points of view. It is extremely evident that she did an in depth close reading analysis of the poem and applied historical context to her analysis.


  2. I took the thesis of your post to be something along the lines of Henry Louis Vivioan Derozio using his poem “The Harp of India” to comment and criticize what English colonialism has done to Irish culture. I think your interpretation of the poem is very interesting and a solid, concrete idea that can definitely be elaborated on further because the idea of the Harp being a two-sided object (representing multiple things) is interesting. With that being said however, I think your analysis of the poem and its lines could be stronger. If you were to elaborate on your analysis and interpretation, your post and idea could be stronger!


  3. I think the thesis is the first sentence of the paragraph, but could be strengthened if the writer combines the first sentence and a condensed version of the last sentence sentence in that same paragraph. The post was well put together and your interpretation is different from what most would think.


  4. This author’s main argument is that “The Harp of India” is commenting on the declining state of Ireland due to British intervention. Not only does the author provide evidence for their claim, they also bring in the author’s own identity as both Indian and European to explain Derozio’s stance. I find the reference to the author very interesting and wish that was more explored. Beyond that, I think that some smaller quotes would be easier on the reader and that the author could have explored the implications for India and not only Ireland presented in the poem.
    -Meredith Leonardo


  5. What is the most original idea presented in this post and how could the student’s interpretation be improved? The blog post presents the original idea that the Irish harp is representative of racial minorities/mixed races because of the history of the Irish have faced. The Irish were discriminated against in England and the writer connects Irish history to minorities. The interpretation could be improved by perhaps adding historical data about the specific hardships Irish people faced in the 18th century.


  6. I loved the author’s provision of textual evidence to examine the “Harp of India.” The author’s interpretation is accompanied by an abundance of textual evidence, which is appreciated. However, a piece of advice would be to shorten the amount of textual evidence to what is necessary.

    – Hongxi Su


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