I found that Henry Derozio, “The Harp of India” was a very interesting take on the idea of the Harp and what its symbolism. The other two poems are written about the Harp in an Irish context, but Derozio’s is written in the context of the Harp being significant in India. The first part of the poem starts off in a very sad and melancholy tone basically talking about how the speaker laments that the Harp is no longer being played and how there is no one to hear it’s beautiful and “sweet music.” That even the wind cannot make it play, therefore it just sits there neglected and unused. However, the second part of the poem starts to become a bit more optimistic and ultimately ends in a positive and hopeful light. The speaker shifts from speaking about the actual Harp to those who play it and includes some contextual information regarding the history of the Harp. The speaker emphasizes how beautiful and worthy the songs the previous “poets” played on the Harp and how the speaker is not worthy of comparing. As well as how those songs are so important that they have become famous and will live on forever. The speaker ultimately ends with despite the poets being dead, their songs will continue to live on, and he will aspire to keep them alive and restore glory to his India.
This poem touches briefly on the history of the harp as well as the history of India and one interpretation of this poem can be that the harp symbolizes India and how it lays forgotten due to the colonization of India by Britain. And how it now lays forgotten because no one will remember it, but despite all of that, the poets who have written about India have kept it alive and kept it remembered and therefore is willing to keep “playing the harp” to keep the memory and importance of India alive and known, ultimately bringing the glory of India back.
-Laura Mateo Gallegos