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.
“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.