Irish Melodies, published in 1845, with illustrations by Maclise, did much to popularise the harp as a symbol of Irish national identity. Moore's sentimental songs frequently refer to the harp as a symbol of Ireland’s past glory. In one song, a young bard, believing that the sound of the harp can only ring out in times of freedom, deliberately tears the strings of his harp as invading troops swarm around him. A silent harp with broken strings appears in the painting. Maclise may have included it to illustrate his Romantic nationalist sympathies.