The Aeolian Harp Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Aeolian Harp Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Aeolian Harp

The harp (or "the Lute") is easily the most complex symbol in this poem. The Aeolian Harp is an interesting stringed instrument that makes music when the strings are brushed by the wind; placing it in an open window allows the wind to caress the strings and produce a beautiful sound. Coleridge uses this harp as a symbol for the mind of the poet. When the beauty of the world and the divine spirit caress him, he cannot help but release poetry from the strings of his instrument. The spirit pointed to by this harp is a major theme of the novel, and Coleridge starts to give it exaggerated importance in the order of the universe before Sara, his fiancée, corrects him.

The Wind

The wind is another important symbol, one used in the larger symbolism of the Aeolian Harp. The harp makes music when the wind rushes over its strings, and Coleridge uses this to symbolize the beauty of creation sweeping over the mind of the poet, who cannot help but release his poetry when overwhelmed with such a stimulus. The wind thus comes to represent the inspiring beauty of creation, and Coleridge goes so far as to suggest that this wind represents a divine spirit that inhabits all things before he catches sight of Sara's disapproving glance.


Coleridge speaks wistfully of a scene: Sara and himself sitting in front of their "Cot," which has been overgrown with "Jasmin" and "Myrtle." Jasmine is a flower that represents purity and innocence, so the symbolism in this line implies the purity of the relationship between Coleridge and his fiancée, a desirable quality in a Christian courtship.


Myrtle is also used as a symbol when describing the "Cot" of Coleridge and Sara in the first stanza. The symbolism of myrtle is similar to that of jasmine, but not exactly the same; myrtle is also a symbol of innocence and purity, but it has a strong connotation of love, especially in Hebrew culture. The myrtle growing along their cot is thus a visual representation of the mutual love they enjoy.

The Evening Star

In the poem's first stanza, Coleridge mentions that he and Sara are looking up at the stars, "the star of eve" in particular. This "evening star" is identified as the planet Venus, which is associated with the Greek goddess of love and sexual desire. This "star of eve" might therefore represent the tantalizingly close but still far-off mutual experience of sexual desire in the relationship between Coleridge and his fiancée, Sara, which would make sense considering that Coleridge composed this poem in anticipation of his wedding.

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