The writer of Dear Harp of my Country, Thomas Moore, uses strong emphasis on the harp on order to bring attention to the hope that it symbolizes for himself and for his country, and even delves into the harp’s background connecting to Ireland;
“The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness; Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill”
This quote from the poem embodies the affect that the harp has had in Moore’s home country, focusing on how the harp uplifts those in their darkest times, and how the harp acts as a conductor for happiness with its tune.
Thomas Moore uses the harp in his poem as a way to extend its significance. He addresses the harp as the symbol of his country in the first line. He finds the harp in darkness, as he describes, which I find as a him using the harp as the pride of the Irish. It is stated that in the history of the harp, “…the skill of the Irish harpers as the sole redeeming characteristic of an otherwise barbaric race” as stated by the Welsh cleric Giraldus Cambrensis. The poem Dear Harp of my Country is a statement of pride for Ireland and the Irish. The harp is considered a source of pride and is a respected aspect of the otherwise demonized Irish. Much more as a source of pride, “…the harp icon became increasingly prominent as a symbol of Ireland under English rule and later as a marker of identity in contemporary Irish politics and culture”. Therefore, the harp is an identifier for the Irish, for those deemed worthy. Moore writes, “If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover,/ Have throbb’d at our lay, ‘tis thy glory alone”. It is perhaps the harp that reigns above the life of all else as the harp, the heart and soul of the Irish, that is most worthy and influential.
As I read through Dear Harp of my Country, Thomas Moore’s overflowing emotions were apparent. I would describe Moore speaking to the lost harp, as La Llorona speaking to
her lost children. But more importantly the harp is personified in this poem to represent the state of Ireland. In Greek Mythology, Apollo, the god of the sun would use the lyre/harp to heal people, similar to how the harp in Irish poetry was used to metaphorically “heal” the people of Ireland.
Interestingly enough, in Irish culture the harp is what became the symbol for hope, the actual instrument, not the person playing the instrument. In one of Moore’s lines he writes “go, sleep, with the sunshine of fame on thy slumbers”, ultimately saying goodbye to the harp. The harp, being as renowned as it was served as a representation for Irish culture, and when Moore says goodbye to the harp, he is essentially also saying goodbye to Irish culture as well. This final goodbye makes this poem more nationalistic than it originally seems. By saying goodbye to the harp, and to the notion of irish culture, he is also saying goodbye to hope for his country.
The harp itself is a symbol for an ancient, pure, prestigious Ireland. Prior to the oppression that the Irish community faced , the harp symbolized high class honor. In the poem The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Halls by Thomas Moore, is about Irish Nationalism. Moore lets Tara symbolize the seat of Irish government, and the rule of Ireland. The harp, the traditional musical instrument known, as the Irish symbol, symbolizes the Irish people, culture, and spirit. This poem to put it bluntly is also about how things that are famous and important at one point, will eventually lose value or worth. It is the idea that no matter what oblivion or death is inevitable. The poem demonstrates how the harp loses, its high class value. The beginning of this ballad talks about the joy that this instrument brought to the lives of people. “ So glory’s thrill is o’er, And hearts, that once beat high for praise,” This is discussing the joy that the harp had brought to the people. After the devastations of the Irish community, the harps symbol of high status, had the reminder of suffering attached to it. “The harp that once through Tara’s halls The soul of music shed, Now hangs as mute on Tara’s walls, As if that soul were fled” What lines 1 through 4 mean from this poem is that ever since harp was no longer played as much as it used to, the spirit of the Irish community ceased with it. It is sad, knowing that something that these people seeked joy and happiness through had gained a negative symbol with it. The second part of the poem talks about the pain that people got from playing the harp, ever since the Irish were viewed as “barbaric’ people.
Derozio’s poem starts off dead, with no one to touch its strings. The harp who once played beautiful sounds is no longer alive as it withers away.
“Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou,
Like ruined monument on desert plain”
I can’t help but draw a comparison to Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias”;
“Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
In Shelley’s it tells Ramses II whose empire crumbled to sands, and is long forgotten about. Bleak, how “The Harp of India” starts. The Harp takes on personification, “her fatal chain”. More importantly it becomes a symbol, a symbol of Indian culture, and its death due to Western ‘Influence’.
Fortunately, unlike Ramses II, there is hope, the writer hopes that “the mortal” will be revived again. There is hope for the Harp to be played once more, for India to reconnect with her roots, and play songs of cultural importance. The Harp signifies a heritage, a cultural background. Which is why the Irish hold so dear to it, it’s part of their rich history. A beautiful instrument, nothing quite sounds like it. Its a call to arms to acknowledge Indian art, and to not forget it.
Thomas Moore author of “Dear Harp of my Country.” creates a strong symbolic message of Irish culture. In the first line Moore elevates the harp to that of a deity, providing light when all around was darkness (Line 1). Partnered with the second Moore exemplifies the importance of the harp, and that he has his owns which free him from the clutches of his own confinement (Line 2-3). With his harp he plays to the melodies of the three liberating concepts: “light, freedom, and song,” and that this is something you could only find in a harp, no other instrument will offer the same freedoms. Creating a mirror image of freedom and the harp, obtaining one will only serve to provide light in your life and set you on a path to be a free individual in both body and mind. Music, like in other oppressed cultures, plays an important role to the Irish, especially during their time ruled by England, which has not stopped. Within the oppression, the harp stands as the sole instrument that began and supports Ireland, Moore argues this in his diction: “Island Harp,” “lay of love,” “liveliest thrill” (Line 3, 5-6). Each phrase either places the harp as the land itself or that the harp provides love in the lay of the land and a lively thrill when strummed. In the second section a pivotal idea of Moore’s: even if the harp is played by others, meaning the English, it will never be understood by them “touch’d by some hand less unworthy then mine” (Line 4). Even when full of “Fame” the truth of the instrument will only be understood by the Irish, its secrets and message will exist solely for the Irish.
-Nick Vasquez Rodriguez
The harp was an importance to the Irish, the same way a flag or song has an importance to a country and group of people. There had always been an importance for the harp, it was a political symbol to the people and cultural symbol as well. However, because of what it meant politically, it got banned and started to lose what it meant to the public.
In the poem, Dear Harp of My Country, there is pride and a sense of joy when talking about the chords and the “love and the light note of gladness” that it played. The harp was a very big representation of who people believed represented the country the best. Those words were used to express how everyone felt about the harps which was pride of their own but also rebellion against England. However, as the harp popularity began to decline, it can be seen expressed in the way Moore writes, towards the end of the poem. He says “this sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine”. He mentions the way it was well known and very popular, “the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers” and the way it will be remembered again but it will not be as important. It is a way of saying goodbye, it has been a symbol of who he, and others, were. It has finally come to an end, an end that he is okay with. In few words he was able to express what the people felt when it came to the harp, from the beginning and end of its impact.
It is no secret that the harp is universally known as a symbol of the Irish. It is also no secret that the Irish have a very sad history. Before the Irish were seen as uncivilized, harps and their musicians were seen as high society status symbols. They were a keystone of society. The ballad The Harp that once through Tara’s Halls tells the sad story of how the harp went from being a sign of high status to outside society to being degraded along with the Irish race. The poem starts with the times when pubs would be filled with the melody of the harp and the people celebrating it. Then it takes us to the present to show us that this is no longer how it is. Now the harp is seen as a reminder of the suffering of their people. This is evident through the solemn tone. Originally, societies saw the harp and thought of it as a beautiful thing. Then, the world started to view the Irish people as barbaric. With the harp being associated with the Irish people, its status declined as theirs did. Traditionally, music of the harp was played for celebration and gathering to fill the room with joy. After the horrible suffering of the Irish, music of the harp has been transformed into tunes of despair. This is what the melody is talking about in the second part. The tale of how the Irish used to be filled with pride and have now been reduced to pain and suffering is truly heartbreaking. The melody is expressing this heartbreak through images of a broken harp and the broken melody that it now plays. It even shows us the worn out people that play the harp while associating it with the pain and hardships that their people have endured. One might also consider the way the author structured the melody. It is written with a diction that gives us small, but powerful glances into the lives of someone during that time period.
Since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the harp became synonymous with Irishness, an association most notable today in the Guinness Beer Company’s trademark logo (est. 1759). For next Wednesday (5/1), students will write a blog post on the symbolic significance of the Irish harp in ONE of the three assigned poems for that week: Thomas Moore, Sydney Owenson, or Henry Derozio. How do these poets use the cultural history of the harp to convey their nationalist message? Explain how their poems extend, rewrite, or complicate this history. To help you answer this question, click on this link to a scholarly website that traces the long and complex history of the Irish harp in Britain:
Please explain your answer through a CLOSE READING of the poem, paying careful attention to rhyme, tone, diction, imagery, and form.
Please categorize your post under “The French Revolution” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags. The post is due by 9:30am this Wednesday (5/1). And please sign your posts so that your TA and I know who wrote what.
Warning: students who don’t submit their post on time or edit their blog post after the submission deadline, will not receive a grade (a “0”).
In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift satirizes Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. The satire begins in the first chapter, after Gulliver is shipwrecked onto a strange island. When he makes it to the island’s shore, he falls asleep, but when he awakes, he is bound by ropes. When he tries to break free from the bondage, he is shot with hundreds of tiny arrows and he “fell a groaning with Grief and Pain” (Swift 24). After Gulliver learns that it is best to remain calm and do as he is told, the people of Lilliput feed him “Baskets full of Meat” and drinks that “tasted like small Wine” (Swift 25-26). Because the people of Lilliput are small (around six inches), the amount of food they give to Gulliver is significant. Though he is supposedly their captive, they still feed him well and give him shelter. This resembles Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative because she is taken captive and is physically hurt during the act. However, after she begins to do as the native’s instruct, she is never harmed again and she is also given food. In one particular instance, Rowlandson is offered her peas and such when the native people were suffering from the same sense of starvation as her. The experience Gulliver has with the people of Lilliput reflect’s Rowlandson’s experience with the natives.
Furthermore, when he is explaining everything that occurred in writing, Gulliver integrates words from the Lilliput people. He mentions words such as “Borach Mivola”, “Hekina Degul”, “Peplom Selan”, and “Hurgo”. Though at first, he did not understand the meaning of those words, he eventually began to learn what some of those words meant. Gulliver states, “he cried out three times Langro Dehul san (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me) (Swift 25). This reflects Mary Rowlandson’s writing in her captivity narrative because she also includes Native language words and she makes it clear that she learned the meaning of those words. Rowlandson created an unspoken bond with the Natives and despite her efforts to make it seem otherwise, Swift’s writing reflects her experience (in a more comical manner).
Gulliver is taken to meet the leader of the people – the same way that Rowlandson was taken to meet King Philip. Gulliver becomes more amicable with the people of Lilliput even though he is considered to be their captive because they do not exactly mistreat him. Gulliver sees the people as strange because of their physical features and that is parallel to the way that Mary Rowlandson (and white colonists) saw the Natives – as otherworldly. The parallels continue throughout the novel, but in this specific part, there is much similarity between Rowlandson’s writing and Swift’s fictional tale.
-Maria G. Perez