Welcome to my collection of harp quotes and glimpses of the harp in literature. May these snippets inspire you as you continue your journey of exploration into the magic and wonder of the Celtic harp!
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.
~ Thomas Moore
He’s made a harp of her breast-bane,
Whose sound wad melt a heart of stane.
He’s ta’en three locks o’ her yellow hair,
And wi’ them strung his harp sae rare.
~ Unknown, Binnorie, or The Two Sisters
And tears are heard within the harp I touch.
A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself; and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart. The season, the scene, the air, were all favourable to tenderness and sentiment.
~ Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Richard: Harp not on that string, madam, that is past.
Queen Elizabeth: Harp on it still shall I till heart-strings break.
~ William Shakespeare, Richard III
’T is believ’d that this harp which I wake now for thee
Was a siren of old who sung under the sea.
~ Thomas Moore, The Origin of the Harp
And what if all of animated nature
Be but organic Harps diversely framed,
That tremble into thought, as o’er them sweeps
Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,
At once the Soul of each, and God of all?
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Aeolian Harp
Read the full text of Coleridge’s poem here.
The Harp of Aengus
Edain came out of Midhir’s hill, and lay
Beside young Aengus in his tower of glass,
Where time is drowned in odour-laden winds
And Druid moons, and murmuring of boughs,
And sleepy boughs, and boughs where apples made
Of opal and ruhy and pale chrysolite
Awake unsleeping fires; and wove seven strings,
Sweet with all music, out of his long hair,
Because her hands had been made wild by love.
When Midhir’s wife had changed her to a fly,
He made a harp with Druid apple-wood
That she among her winds might know he wept;
And from that hour he has watched over none
But faithful lovers.
~ William Butler Yeats
And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman’s head
Leaned against her shoulder.
Her thin fingers, moving
In the thin, tall strings,
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Harp Weaver
More Harp Quotes
I seem, in most of these verses, to have but placed a harp in a window, and noted the contrasted airs which wayward winds have played upon the strings.
~ Herman Melville
Strange that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long!
~ Isaac Watts
The harp at Nature’s advent strung
Has never ceased to play;
The song the stars of morning sung
Has never died away.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
Time has laid his hand
Upon my heart gently, not smiting it,
But as a harper lays his open palm
Upon his harp, to deaden its vibrations.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, passed in music out of sight.
~ Alfred Tennyson Tennyson
I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.
~ Zora Neale Hurston
The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you’ll find him,
His father’s sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him.
~ Thomas Moore
In winter, when the dismal rain
Comes down in slanting lines,
And Wind, that grand old harper, smote
His thunder-harp of pines.
~ Alexander Smith
Love’s the only thing I’ve thought of or read about since I was knee-high. That’s what I always dreamed of, of meeting somebody and falling in love. And when that remarkable thing happened, I was going to recite poetry to her for hours about how her heart’s an angel’s wing and her hair the strings of a heavenly harp. Instead I got drunk and hollered at her and called her a harpy.
~ Ben Hecht
I was the same kind of father as I was a harpist – I played by ear.
~ Harpo Marx
I am the most fortunate self taught harpist and non-speaking actor who ever lived.
~ Harpo Marx