How does one annotate the poem "The Harp of India" by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio?

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When annotating a poem, we are analyzing it for structure and literary devices in order to try and reach an understanding about the deeper meaning of the poem. Below are a few ideas to help get you started.

One thing worthy of note is that the poem is structured in the form of a sonnet. A sonnet typically contains 14 lines and a specific rhyme pattern. There are many different rhyme schemes for sonnets. The typical Shakespearean, or English sonnet, is usually ababcdcdefefgg. Derozio's poem is unique in that, while it has a definite rhyme scheme, it is most definitely different from any typical rhyme scheme for sonnets. If we assign each rhyming end word with a letter, we find that the rhyme scheme is ababbabcdcdcee. The diverging rhyme scheme can help identify the meaning of the poem.

The title of the poem alone, "The Harp of India," especially the reference to the country India, can tell us that this is a political or cultural poem. If we look further at the diction of the poem, such as the phrase "fatal chain" in the line, "Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain" and even the phrase "my country" in the final line, we can see that it is also a poem about political suppression. Since we know that the poet Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was born and lived in India during the early 1800s, the same era that England owned India as part of its empire, we can deduce that the poem is speaking out against British Imperialism. Hence, after looking at the diction, we can further deduce that the rhyme scheme which diverges from any traditional sonnet rhyme scheme, especially the English sonnet, is a means of protesting against conformity, especially against conformity to the British Empire.

Hence, just by looking at rhyme scheme and some diction alone, we are able to deduce that the poet is speaking out against the British Empire, wanting India to find its own art and culture once again.

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