Thomas Moore’s poem about the harp is short and to the point. It talks about a harp that once was a symbol of nationalism now being left unused and “mute” (3). This clearly is a metaphor for better “former days” (5), now that “glory’s thrill is o’er” (6). The past glory is personified by referring to its now unfelt “pulse” (8). This poem takes that image further, referring to Freedom that is barely moving anymore either.
An important component of this poem is the personification. Freedom is personified as a person or animal as is doesn’t wake often, is referred to as a she with a heart, and is referred to as living. This referral to Freedom as living is important to an understanding of the poem. The poet is not only talking about the past, he is talking about a present that has hope, that there is still a small amount of life to be found. Glory, of course, is personified and so are former days, whose pride now “sleeps” (5). The personification changes these ideas from the abstract to the physical world. The reader is presented with an image of a heart that is literally beating.
This poem’s rhyming structure is as follows: ababcdcd etc. Its meter is 8/6/8/6. These patterns are consistent throughout the poem. Thus the poem has a very rhythmic structure to it. This rhythm adds to our understanding of the old nationalism in that it appears there is a regularity to it. The heart beating in the present only occasionally at one point held the very “soul of music” (2).
Overall, there are several clear observations that can be made about the nationalism this is talking about. It is clearly alive, it is now dead, and rhythm and structure is the way of nationalism.