Made by Egan, in Dublin ca. 1804-1841
Big golden harps make me think of angels,
But here’s one, only as tall as my knee.
I kneel down to peer at its pedigree
Typed on a card. It doesn’t have pedals
But ivory levers along the column.
The gilt is fading, and the base looks frail.
Is this a lyre? Did Greek poets wail
Iambic verses as they plucked and strummed?
No, Thomas Moore once owned this instrument.
The harp that once through Tara’s halls, I hum
Like my father, who loved old Irish songs.
On a small harp like this you could invent
Your own world, the way a sonnet becomes
A frame of strings we yearn to play along.
—Maura Stanton (Monroe County)
The poem first appeared in The Atlantic.
Maura Stanton’s first book of poetry, Snow on Snow, was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and published in 1975. She has also published Cries of Swimmers (Utah, 1984), Tales of the Supernatural (Godine, 1988), Life Among the Trolls (Carnegie Mellon, 1998), Glacier Wine (Carnegie Mellon, 2002) and Immortal Sofa (University of Illinois, 2008). Her poems have appeared in Southwest Review, Poetry, The New Yorker, Southern Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Yale Review, Ecotone, The Hudson Review and River Styx. Her work has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and the BBC radio program Words and Music.
Poetry Prompt: A Museum Artifact
Visit a local museum or explore a museum online in order to write a poem about an artifact that intrigues you. Before you start writing, look closely at this object and jot down a list of concrete details about it, as well as the associations it conjures. Read about its history and who created it. As you write, be sensitive to the metaphorical significance this object will want to suggest.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.