The Eolian harp was a common accessory in 18th century households. It's possibly making a comeback now, but our closest modern equivalent is wind chimes. Placed near a window, wind will play across the Eolian harp, making music.
For Romantic poets, particularly first-generation Romantics, the harp functioned as a most, if not the most, important metaphor or puzzle. They questioned what produced the music: the harp? The wind? No: the interchange of wind and harp produces the music.
Coleridge uses the harp as the controlling metaphor for the poem of the same name: "The Eolian Harp". He asks where thoughts originate, focusing on their uncontrollable nature. Music is not the real subject, but the apparent subject. The real subject is the harp, or all organic nature -- and ultimately, the human mind. He draws the following analogies:
Harp : Wind => Music
Mind : Nature => Thoughts
where Mind is the subject(ive), while Nature is the object(ive).
Note: Comments/corrections welcome, please!
Deborah Kim, 1B