Tiriel is the eponymous character in a poem by William Blake written c.1789, and considered the first of his prophetic books. The character of Tiriel is often interpreted as a foreshadowing of Urizen, representative of conventionality and conformity, and one of the major characters in Blake's as yet unrealised mythological system.
Many years before the poem begins, the sons of Har and Heva revolted and abandoned their parents. Tiriel subsequently set himself up as a tyrant in the west, driving one of his brothers, Ijim, into exile in the wilderness, and chaining the other, Zazel, in a cave in the mountains. Tiriel then made slaves of his own children, until eventually, led by the eldest son, Heuxos, they too rebelled, overthrowing their father. Upon his demise, Tiriel refused their offer of refuge in the palace, and instead went into exile in the mountains with his wife, Myratana. Five years later, the poem begins with the now blind Tiriel returning to the kingdom with his dying wife, as he wants his children to see her death, believing them to be responsible and cursing them for betraying him five years previously. Soon thereafter, Myratana dies, and Tiriel's children again ask him to remain with them but he refuses and wanders away, again cursing them and telling them he will have his revenge.
After some time wandering, Tiriel eventually arrives at the "pleasant gardens" (2:10) of the Vales of Har, where he finds his parents, Har and Heva. However, they have both become senile and have regressed to a childlike state. Tiriel lies about who is he is, claiming that he was cast into exile by the gods, who then destroyed his race. Excited by the visit, Har and Heva invite Tiriel to help them catch birds and listen to Har's singing in the "great cage" (3:21). Tiriel refuses to stay, however, claiming his journey is not yet at an end, and resumes his wandering.
He travels into the forest and soon encounters his brother Ijim, who has recently been terrorised by a shapeshifting spirit. Upon seeing Tiriel, Ijim immediately assumes that Tiriel is another manifestation of the spirit. Tiriel assures Ijim that he is in fact the real Tiriel, but Ijim does not believe him, and decides to return to Tiriel's palace to see the real Tiriel and thus expose the spirit as an imposter. However, upon arriving at the palace, Heuxos informs Ijim that the Tiriel with him is indeed the real Tiriel, but Ijim suspects that the entire palace and everyone in it is part of the spirit's deception. As such, he leaves, and upon his departure, Tiriel, descending ever more rapidly into madness, curses his children even more passionately than before. Calling upon natural disasters, four of his five daughters and one hundred of his one hundred and thirty sons are destroyed, including Heuxos.
Tiriel then demands that his youngest and only surviving daughter, Hela, lead him back to the Vales of Har. She reluctantly agrees, but on the journey she denounces him for his actions. Tiriel responds in a rage, turning her locks of hair into snakes, although he vows that if she brings him to the Vales of Har, he will return her hair to normal. On the way through the mountains, as they pass the cave wherein lives Zazel and his sons, Hela's cries of lamentation awaken them, and they hurl dirt and stones at Tiriel and Hela. Eventually Tiriel and Hela reach the Vales of Har, but rather than celebrating his return, Tiriel condemns his parents, and the way they brought him up, declaring that his father's laws and his own wisdom now "end together in a curse" (8:8). Tiriel then dies at his parents' feet; "He ceast outstretch'd at Har & Heva's feet in awful death" (8:29).
As the former king of the west, Tiriel is of the body in Blake's mythological system, in which the west is assigned to Tharmas, representative of the senses. However, when he visits the Vales of Har, Tiriel falsely claims to be from the north, which is assigned to Urthona, representative of the imagination.
Most scholars agree that Tiriel's name was probably taken from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's De occulta philosophia libri tres (1651), where the name is associated with the planet Mercury and the elements sulphur and mercury.Harold Bloom, however, believes the name is a combination of the word 'tyrant' and the Hebrew word for God, El. In terms of Tiriel's character, David V. Erdman believes that he is partially based on King George III, who suffered bouts of insanity throughout 1788 and 1789. Erdman argues that "the pattern of Tiriel's "madness and deep dismay" parallels that of King George's," and thus the poem is "a symbolic portrait of the ruler of the British Empire. [Blake] knew that the monarch who represented the father principal of law and civil authority was currently insane." As evidence, Erdman points out that during his bouts of insanity, George tended to become hysterical in the presence of four of his five daughters, only the youngest, (Amelia), could calm him (in the poem, Tiriel destroys four of his daughters but spares the youngest, his favourite). Bloom believes that Tiriel is also partially based on William Shakespeare's King Lear and, in addition, is a satire "of the Jehovah of deistic orthodoxy, irascible and insanely rationalistic." Northrop Frye makes a similar claim; "He expects and loudly demands gratitude and reverence from his children because he wants to be worshipped as a god, and when his demands are answered by contempt he responds with a steady outpouring of curses. The kind of god which the existence of such tyrannical papas suggests is the jealous Jehovah of the Old Testament who is equally fertile in curses and pretexts for destroying his innumerable objects of hatred." Alicia Ostriker believes the character to be partially based on both Oedipus from Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and the prince of Tyre from the Book of Ezekiel (28:1-10), who is denounced by Ezekiel for trying to pass himself off as God. Looking at the character from a symbolic point of view, Frye argues that he "symbolises a society or civilisation in its decline."
Although Tiriel himself is not featured in any of Blake's later work, he is often seen as a foreshadowing of Urizen, limiter of men's desires, embodiment of tradition and conformity, and a central character in Blake's mythology, appearing in Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793), America a Prophecy (1793), Europe a Prophecy (1794), The Book of Urizen (1794), The Book of Ahania (1795), The Book of Los (1795), The Song of Los (1795), Vala, or The Four Zoas (1796-1803), Milton a Poem (1804-1810), and Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804-1820). Tiriel is similar to Urizen insofar as "he too revolted, set himself up as a tyrant, became a hypocrite, ruined his children by his curse, and finally collapsed."
Other aspects of Blake's mythology also begin to emerge in the actions of the character. For example, S. Foster Damon argues Tiriel's murder of four of his daughters and his corruption of the fifth is Blake's first presentation of the death of the four senses and the corruption of touch, or sex; "all imaginative activity based on the senses disappears except automatic sexual reproduction. Even this proves too much for his moral virtue."As Damon elaborates, "Hela's Medusan locks are the torturing thoughts of suppressed lust." The corruption of the senses, as initiated here by Tiriel, plays an important role throughout Europe a Prophecy ("the five senses whelm'd/In deluge o'er the earth-born man"), The Book of Urizen ("The senses inwards rush'd shrinking,/Beneath the dark net of infection"), The Song of Los ("Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave/Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more/And more to Earth: closing and restraining:/Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete"), The Four Zoas ("Beyond the bounds of their own self their senses cannot penetrate") and Jerusalem ("As the Senses of Men shrink together under the Knife of flint").
Another subtle connection with the later mythology is found when Tiriel has all but thirty of his sons killed; "And all the children in their beds were cut off in one night/Thirty of Tiriels sons remaind. to wither in the palace/Desolate. Loathed. Dumb Astonishd waiting for black death" (5:32-34). Damon believes this foreshadows The Book of Urizen, where Urizen brings about the fall of the thirty cities of Africa; "And their thirty cities divided/In form of a human heart", "And the thirty cities remaind/Surrounded by salt floods" (27:21-22 and 28:8-9).
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
In the mythology of William Blake, Urizen is the embodiment of conventional reason and law. He is usually depicted as a bearded old man; he sometimes bears architect's tools, to create and constrain the universe; or nets, with which he ensnares people in webs of law and conventional society. Originally, Urizen represented one half of a two-part system, with him representing reason and Los, his opposition, representing imagination. In Blake's reworking of his mythic system, Urizen is one of the four Zoas that result from the division of the primordial man, Albion, and he continues to represent reason. He has an Emanation, or paired female equivalent, Ahania, who stands for Pleasure. In Blake's myth, Urizen is joined by many daughters with three representing aspects of the body. He is also joined by many sons, with four representing the four elements. These sons join in rebellion against their father but are later united in the Last Judgment. In many of Blake's books, Urizen is seen with four books that represent the various laws that he places upon humanity.
Orc is a proper name for one of the characters in the complex mythology of William Blake. A fallen figure, Orc is the embodiment of rebellion, and stands opposed to Urizen, the embodiment of tradition.
Milton is an epic poem by William Blake, written and illustrated between 1804 and 1810. Its hero is John Milton, who returns from Heaven and unites with Blake to explore the relationship between living writers and their predecessors, and to undergo a mystical journey to correct his own spiritual errors.
The Book of Thel is a poem by William Blake, dated 1789 and probably composed in the period 1788 to 1790. It is illustrated by his own plates, and compared to his later prophetic books is relatively short and easier to understand. The metre is a fourteen-syllable line. It was preceded by Tiriel, which Blake left in manuscript. A few lines from Tiriel were incorporated into The Book of Thel. Most of the poem is in unrhymed verse.
The Book of Urizen is one of the major prophetic books of the English writer William Blake, illustrated by Blake's own plates. It was originally published as The First Book of Urizen in 1794. Later editions dropped the "First". The book takes its name from the character Urizen in Blake's mythology, who represents alienated reason as the source of oppression. The book describes Urizen as the "primeaval priest" and tells how he became separated from the other Eternals to create his own alienated and enslaving realm of religious dogma. Los and Enitharmon create a space within Urizen's fallen universe to give birth to their son Orc, the spirit of revolution and freedom.
The Book of Ahania is one of the English poet William Blake's prophetic books. It was published in 1795, illustrated by Blake's own plates.
In the mythological writings of William Blake, Fuzon is the fourth and final son of Urizen, associated with the classical element of fire. In The Book of Ahania he fights Urizen for control of the world.
The prophetic books of the 18th-century English poet and artist William Blake are a series of lengthy, interrelated poetic works drawing upon Blake's own personal mythology. They have been described as forming "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". While Blake worked as a commercial illustrator, these books were ones that he produced, with his own engravings, as an extended and largely private project.
The Spectre is one aspect of the fourfold nature of the human psyche along with Humanity, Emanation and Shadow that William Blake used to explore his spiritual mythology throughout his poetry and art. As one of Blake's elements of the psyche, Spectre takes on symbolic meaning when referred to throughout his poems. According to professor Joseph Hogan, "Spectre functions to define individuals from others [...] When it is separated [from Emanation], it is reason, trying to define everything in terms of unchanging essences." Thus, according to Samuel Foster Damon, Spectre epitomizes "Reason separated from humanity" and "Self-centered selfhood" or, as Alexander S. Gourlay puts it, Spectre is "characterized by self-defensive rationalization".
Har is a character in the mythological writings of William Blake, who roughly corresponds to an aged Adam. His wife, Heva, corresponds to Eve. Har appears in Tiriel (1789) and The Song of Los (1795) and is briefly mentioned in The Book of Thel (1790) and Vala, or The Four Zoas (1796-1803).
In the mythological writings of William Blake, Los is the fallen form of Urthona, one of the four Zoas. He is referred to as the "eternal prophet" and creates the visionary city of Golgonooza. Los is regularly described as a smith, beating with his hammer on a forge, which is metaphorically connected to the beating of the human heart. The bellows of his forge are the human lungs. Los's emanation, Enitharmon, represents spiritual beauty and embodies pity, but at the same time creates the spatial aspect of the fallen world, weaving bodies for men and creating sexual strife through her insistence upon chastity. In the Book of Urizen (1794), Los and Enitharmon have a child, Orc, who is the embodiment of the spirit of revolution. The name Los is, by common critical acceptance, an anagram of Sol, the Latin word for "sun". Such innovations are common in many of Blake's prophetic poems.
Tiriel is a narrative poem by William Blake, written c.1789. Considered the first of his prophetic books, it is also the first poem in which Blake used free septenaries, which he would go on to use in much of his later verse. Tiriel was unpublished during Blake's lifetime and remained so until 1874, when it appeared in William Michael Rossetti's Poetical Works of William Blake. Although Blake did not engrave the poem, he did make twelve sepia drawings to accompany the rough and unfinished manuscript, although three of them are considered lost as they have not been traced since 1863.
Tiriel, Op. 41, is a 1985 opera by the Russian composer Dmitri Smirnov in three acts with a symphonic prologue to his own English libretto after a poem of the same title by William Blake. It has been translated into Russian and German. It was first performed at the Stadttheater Freiburg on 28 January 1989.
Europe a Prophecy is a 1794 prophetic book by the British poet and illustrator William Blake. It is engraved on 18 plates, and survives in just nine known copies. It followed America a Prophecy of 1793.
Vala, or The Four Zoas refers to one of the uncompleted prophetic books by the English poet William Blake, begun in 1797. The eponymous main characters of the book are the Four Zoas, who were created by the fall of Albion in Blake's mythology. It consists of nine books, referred to as "nights". These outline the interactions of the Zoas, their fallen forms and their Emanations. Blake intended the book to be a summation of his mythic universe but, dissatisfied, he abandoned the effort in 1807, leaving the poem in a rough draft and its engraving unfinished. The text of the poem was first published, in 1893, by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats and his fellow collaborator, the English writer and poet Edwin John Ellis, in their three-volume commentary book about William Blake's works, The Works of William Blake.
The Song of Los is one of William Blake's epic poems, known as prophetic books. The poem consists of two sections, "Africa" and "Asia". In the first section Blake catalogues the decline of morality in Europe, which he blames on both the African slave trade and enlightenment philosophers. The book provides a historical context for The Book of Urizen, The Book of Ahania, and The Book of Los, and also ties those more obscure works to The Continental Prophecies, "Europe" and "America". The second section consists of Los urging revolution.
The Book of Los is a 1795 prophetic book by the English poet and painter William Blake. It exists in only one copy, now held by The British Museum. The book is related to the Book of Urizen and to the Continental prophecies; it is essentially a retelling of Urizen from the point of view of Los. The book has been described as a rewriting of the ancient myth of creation that equates fall with the loss of spiritual vision brought about by selfhood.
The continental prophecies is a group of illuminated books by William Blake that have been subject of numerous studies due to their recurrent and unorthodox use of political, literary and sexual metaphors. They consist of America, Europe and The Song of Los.
Poetical Sketches is the first collection of poetry and prose by William Blake, written between 1769 and 1777. Forty copies were printed in 1783 with the help of Blake's friends, the artist John Flaxman and the Reverend Anthony Stephen Mathew, at the request of his wife Harriet Mathew. The book was never published for the public, with copies instead given as gifts to friends of the author and other interested parties. Of the forty copies, fourteen were accounted for at the time of Geoffrey Keynes' census in 1921. A further eight copies had been discovered by the time of Keynes' The Complete Writings of William Blake in 1957. In March 2011, a previously unrecorded copy was sold at auction in London for £72,000.
An Island in the Moon is the name generally assigned to an untitled, unfinished prose satire by William Blake, written in late 1784. Containing early versions of three poems later included in Songs of Innocence (1789) and satirising the "contrived and empty productions of the contemporary culture", An Island demonstrates Blake's increasing dissatisfaction with convention and his developing interest in prophetic modes of expression. Referred to by William Butler Yeats and E. J. Ellis as "Blake's first true symbolic book," it also includes a partial description of Blake's soon-to-be-realised method of illuminated printing. The piece was unpublished during Blake's lifetime, and survives only in a single manuscript copy, residing in the Fitzwilliam Museum, in the University of Cambridge.