Poetry is the art of combining words in rhymes. However, this process is impossible without inspiration, some kind of an insight which helps to understand the idea which comes in the head of a poet and to put it into words. The word inspiration contains the word spirit in its structure. It is not accidentally, as no one can even imagine the existence of one notion without the existence of another. Moreover, inspiration descends from spirit because only it can serve as the essence which gives ideas to poets.
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Poets of all times and epochs usually get inspiration from different symbols and notions. Each epoch has its idea, which can influence the whole poetry. The Aeolian harp can be treated as one of them. The name of this symbol ascends to Aeolus, the God of wind. It is obviously that it serves as the symbol of this power.
However, poets in their works also use this notion as a symbol of harmonic interaction of nature and human being and poetry in the whole. For example, Coleridge widely uses this symbol in his famous poem The Eolian Harp. He compares love and nature with this instrument. It plays a great role in this poem, being one of the main symbols here. The work is overfilled with it.
Another poem which explores the same issue is Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Here we can observe the description of the fury of nature. The author chants the praises to the wind, stressing its power and fury, its primal force and wildness “Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!”. Shelley compares the west wind with the spirit, giving it some mystical powers and stressing its unique role in the poets life.
Calling it spirit, the author makes comparisons with inspiration. He seems to underline the fact that wind can serve as a source of a new life and new ideas. However, as we have already said Aeolian harp can serve as a symbol of this element, being the symbol of poetry at the same time. The conclusion is obvious. The author wants to show the great power of the Aeolian harp, comparing it with the wind. He also talks about a poet is in the grip of it “If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee.”
One more work which touches this issue is the poem The Convergence of the Twain by Thomas Hardy. Describing the destruction of Titanic, he adds the symbol of the Aeolian harp here. “Steel chambers, late the pyres. Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.”. Movements of waves are compared with the harps ringlet. In this case, waves are sounding strings which sing the last song to the dead ship. Aeolian harp obtains here another shade of its meaning. It symbolizes eternal and all-absorbing nature which watches indifferently on humans sufferings and continues singing its song.