How do you annotate the poem "The Harp of India" by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio?  Why hang'st thou lonely on yon withered bough?Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;Thy music once was...

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litteacher8's profile pic

Posted on

Although the above post gives some interesting suggestions about labeling meter, there are other focuses for annotating a poem.  For example, you can annotate for figurative language and the meaning it grants the poem.  The title “The Harp of India” seems to suggest a metaphor, and the background of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is pro-Indian independence from Great Britain.  Knowing that, let’s annotate for metaphors.

Since you have given us the first lines, we’ll use those.

Why hang'st thou lonely on yon withered bough?

This is an interesting line.  It seems to indicate that the fruit (Indian independence) has a choice.  Why is it still hanging there?  I chose two words to highlight.  I also highlighted “lonely” because it seems to indicate isolation, like it has been left behind.

Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;

I chose to highlight “for ever” and “remain” because it indicates that the situation is dire.  There is no hope for India.  Separating "for" and "ever" emphasizes the length of time.

Thy music once was sweet - who hears it now?

I annotated these words to continue the same trend of time in the metaphor.  It tells the story of a country that was once successful, but is not isolated, neglected, and a shadow of its former self.

Remember that the key to annotation is to look deeper at the words on the page.  You can annotate across several times for several reasons.  There is no right or wrong answer—it just depends on what you are looking for and how you interpret it.

tmcquade's profile pic

Posted on

The lines you have included are an example of poetic meter called iambic pentameter, which means that each line includes five iambs.  An iamb is a type of poetic "foot" that includes one accented and one unaccented syllable, with the accent on the second syllable.  Though meter is not always exact, in the lines above, it is.

Below, I have highlighted the syllables that should include an accent, thus receiving emphasis:

Why hang'st thou lonely on yon withered bough?

Unstrung for ever, must thou there remains;

the music once was sweet - who hears it now.

I've included a link below that discusses iambic pentameter a bit further, including why it is the most common type of meter in poetry.  You may find it helpful.


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