Thomas Moore is an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, now best remembered thanks to the Irish Melodies. Thomas Moore was born on 28 May 1779 in Dublin, Ireland. His father had a small grocery shop, he was an Irish speaking Gaeltacht; and Thomas Moore’s mother was from Wexford. From early childhood, he displayed a talent for art. He was good at reciting poems, played some musical instruments and took part in a number of home performances. When he was sixteen years old, he became a student at Trinity College in Dublin. In 1807-1834, he addressed to a soulful idea of Ireland that could be transformed into the motherland of every imposed exile full of sense of guilty. He is prominent as “national poet”. Moore thought that the political temptations that were boiling around him in his youth formed his character. They were the source of his courage to come forward and protect his motherland (PoemHunter). “The minstrel-boy” is an Irish patriotic song, which was created by the author in commemoration of friends. He knew them from his University; they took part in Irish Rebellion, in 1798, and were killed. The poet, using a great number of symbols and stylistic devices throughout the poem, tried to illustrate that a lot of people wanted to fight for their land and where absolutely aware of the fact that they can die in the benefit of patriotic purpose. The song structurally consists of two eight-line stanzas. Thomas Moore created a perfect rhyme, and sometimes he used elision in this verse for the sake of metre. It is presented with the words ‘tho’’ in the first stanza and by ‘lov’d’ and ‘ne’er’, in the second. In the first case, the author missed three letters “ugh”, and in the second case, he missed the vowel “e”. The author uses the apostrophe instead of the missed letters. What is more, we can trace that Moore very often gave an outdated, archaic version of words ‘you, yours’,particularly, when the main character of the verse addresses to someone. In the first stanza, he addresses to the “land of song” and uses the phrases ‘thy rights’ and ‘praise thee’. In the second stanza he talks to his harp and expresses his thoughts using the phrase ‘shall sully three’ ‘thou soul’, ‘thy songs’. By picking such words the author tried to show that the two objects, which the minstrel-boy addresses, are of utmost importance in his life; the author used the high-flown style to stress on the character’s attitude to these objects.
The first stanza of the verse explains the general situation. From the very beginning one can understand that the poem is written on a serious topic and is quite depressive, as it is indicated that the main character is gone to the war. Then, the author uses the symbol “ranks of death” to show that the hero is not alive anymore. This symbol displays the respect, because it was possible to use the ordinary word “died” or even a more formal phrase “pass away”, but the author decided to elevate the minstrel-boy, who is shown as a courageous hero. In the next line, one can see that despite the fact that the boy is a minstrel, he took a sword with him to the war. It was not a usual sword but his father’s weapon, who, probably, was a warrior. In the next line, one meets the first epithet “wild harp”. A harp is a musical instrument, and it cannot posses any feelings or characteristics that might be used to describe a living creature as it is lifeless. Here “wild” can mean “independent”, as the boy was a minstrel, the harp was the only possible mean for him to praise his land; it was a symbol of independence for him. The next line is a reference of the minstrel-boy to his motherland, which is called the “Land of Song”, the land of all bards that is betrayed by the entire world. Here, the author uses hyperbolisation, because he cannot be sure about the whole planet. The emotion is exaggerated, and if one read till the end of the stanza, it would be seen that the author expresses his faithfulness to the country, even if he must confront the whole world and all people around him. The next two lines of the stanza show two main symbols of the verse. It is created with the help of the synecdoche “one sword thy rights shall guard” and in the next line “one harp shall praise thee!”. Here, the main words are “harp” and “sword”. The harp can be counted as the symbol of the soul and the sword, then, is the symbol of the body, which both will be faithful to Ireland till the very end. The second stanza shows the very moment of dying. The boy fell, but he still is recalcitrant and this image is created by the personification “foeman’s chain could not bring his proud soul under”. Chains are inanimate objects, they cannot control using force. It is clear that the author meant the attackers themselves. The possible action which people can do is transferred to the word chain. Next two lines are also the case of personification, because the author indicates that the “harp never spoke again”, because the minstrel himself tore the strings. Only living creatures can talk, while the harp is an inanimate object which can produce any possible sound, only when a human being touches its strings. It also shows the faithfulness, as the warrior hides his sword for enemies not to take it, because it is the warrior’s honor; the same does the bard with his instrument. Moore uses the periphrasis in this verse, which is represented by the phrase “for the pure and free”. It can be easily traced that this phrase is used to replace the Irish nation; the author shows that the minstrel-boy fights for his mother-land and he can sing only for the people who inhabit this land. The ending of the verse is really strong, because the author uses the symbol “harp” which can be associated with the soul of the bard; the main character won’t live in slavery, he would rather die.
Throughout the whole verse, the author takes the reader into the world of proud faithful fearless minstrel, who is ready to fight and die for his mother-land. The author uses plenty of lexico-stylistic devices and symbols to show the inner world of the main hero, to prove his patriotism and love to Ireland.
Thomas Moore created the perfect topic for a patriotic song, skillfully combining form sense and verse sounding. A poet, in a wide sense of this word, is the human, who ardently loves the word, like the sharpest weapon, the most faithful instrument which serves a nation. A poet loves the word, but he is not the slave of the word, he is the master of it.