Tiriel

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Tiriel  (1789) 
by William Blake
The earliest of Blake's so called "prophetic books". Written c.1789.

TIRIEL

Contents

1[edit]

And Aged Tiriel. stood before the Gates of his beautiful palace
With Myratana. once the Queen of all the western plains
But now his eyes were darkned. & his wife fading in death
They stood before their once delightful palace. & thus the Voice
Of aged Tiriel. arose. that his sons might hear in their gates
Accursed race of Tiriel. behold your father
Come forth & look on her that bore you. come you accursed sons.
In my weak arms. I here have borne your dying mother
Come forth sons of the Curse come forth. see the death of Myratana
His sons ran from their gates. & saw their aged parents stand
And thus the eldest son of Tiriel raisd his mighty voice
Old man unworthy to be calld. the father of Tiriels race
For evry one of those thy wrinkles. each of those grey hairs
Are cruel as death. & as obdurate as the devouring pit
Why should thy sons care for thy curses thou accursed man
Were we not slaves till we rebeld. Who cares for Tiriels curse
His blessing was a cruel curse. His curse may be a blessing
He ceast the aged man raisd up his right hand to the heavens
His left supported Myratana shrinking in pangs of death
The orbs of his large eyes he opend. & thus his voice went forth
Serpents not sons. wreathing around the bones of Tiriel
Ye worms of death feasting upon your aged parents flesh
Listen & hear your mothers groans. No more accursed Sons
She bears. she groans not at the birth of Heuxos or Yuva
These are the groans of death ye serpents These are the groans of death
Nourishd with milk ye serpents. nourishd with mothers tears & cares
Look at my eyes blind as the orbless scull among the stones
Look at my bald head. Hark listen ye serpents listen
What Myratana. What my wife. O Soul O Spirit O fire
What Myratana. art thou dead. Look here ye serpents look
The serpents sprung from her own bowels have draind her dry as this[.]
Curse on your ruthless heads. for I will bury her even here
So saying he began to dig a grave with his aged hands
But Heuxos calld a son of Zazel. to dig their mother a grave
Old cruelty desist & let us dig a grave for thee
Thou hast refusd our charity thou hast refusd our food
Thou hast refusd our clothes our beds our houses for thy dwelling
Chusing to wander like a Son of Zazel in the rocks
Why dost thou curse. is not the curse now come upon your head
Was it not you enslavd the sons of Zazel. & they have cursd
And now you feel it. Dig a grave & let us bury our mother
There take the body. cursed sons. & may the heavens rain wrath
As thick as northern fogs. around your gates. to choke you up
That you may lie as now your mother lies. like dogs. cast out
The stink. of your dead carcases. annoying man & beast
Till your white bones are bleachd with age for a memorial.
No your remembrance shall perish. for when your carcases
Lie stinking on the earth. the buriers shall arise from the east
And. not a bone of all the soils of Tiriel remain
Bury your mother but you cannot bury the curse of Tiriel
He ceast & darkling oer the mountains sought his pathless way

2[edit]

He wanderd day & night to him both day & night were dark
The sun he felt but the bright moon was now a useless globe
Oer mountains & thro vales of woe. the blind & aged man
Wanderd till he that leadeth all. led him to the vales of Har
And Har & Heva like two children sat beneath the Oak
Mnetha now aged waited on them. & brought them food & clothing
But they were as the shadow of Har. & as the years forgotten
Playing with flowers. & running after birds they spent the day
And in the night like infants slept delighted with infant dreams
Soon as the blind wanderer enterd the pleasant gardens of Har
They ran weeping like frighted infants for refuge in Mnethas arms
The blind man felt his way & cried peace to these open doors
Let no one fear for poor blind Tiriel hurts none but himself
Tell me O friends where am I now. & in what pleasant place
This is the valley of Har said Mnetha & this the tent of Har
Who art thou poor blind man. that takest the name of Tiriel on thee
Tiriel is king of all the west. who art thou I am Mnetha
And this is Har & Heva. trembling like infants by my side
I know Tiriel is king of the west & there he lives in joy
No matter who I am O Mnetha. if thou hast any food
Give it me. for I cannot stay my journey is far from hence
Then Har said O my mother Mnetha venture not so near him
For he is the king of rotten wood & of the bones of death
He wanders. without eyes. & passes thro thick walls & doors
Thou shalt not smite my mother Mnetha O thou eyeless man
A wanderer. I beg for food. you see I cannot weep
I cast away my staff the kind companion of my travel
And I kneel down that you may see I am a harmless man
He kneeled down & Mnetha said Come Har & Heva rise
He is an innocent old man & hungry with his travel
Then Har arose & laid his hand upon old Tiriels head
God bless thy poor bald pate. God bless. thy hollow winking eyes
God bless thy shriveld beard. God. bless. thy many wrinkled forehead
Thou hast no teeth old man & thus I kiss thy sleek bald head
Heva come kiss his bald head for he will not hurt us Heva
Then Heva came & took old Tiriel in her mothers arms
Bless thy poor eyes old man. & bless the old father of Tiriel
Thou art my Tiriels old father. I know thee thro thy wrinkles
Because thou smellest. like the figtree. thou smellest like ripe figs
How didst thou lose thy eyes old Tiriel. bless thy wrinkled face
Mnetha said come in aged wanderer tell us of thy name
Why shouldest thou conceal thyself from those of thine own flesh
I am not of this region. said Tiriel dissemblingly
I am an aged wanderer once father of a race
Far in the north. but they were wicked & were all destroyd
And I their father sent an outcast. I have told you all
Ask me no more I pray for grief hath seald my precious sight
O Lord said Mnetha how I tremble are there then more people
More human creatures on this earth beside the sons of Har
No more said Tiriel but I remain on all this globe
And I remain an outcast. hast thou any thing to drink
Then Mnetha gave him milk & fruits. & they sat down together

3[edit]

They sat & eat & Har & Heva smild on Tiriel
Thou art a very old old man but I am older than thou
How came thine hair to leave thy forehead how came thy face so brown
My hair is very long my beard. doth cover all my breast
God bless thy piteous face. to count the wrinkles in thy face
Would puzzle Mnetha. bless thy face for thou art Tiriel
Tiriel I never saw but once I sat with him & eat
He was as chearful as a prince & gave me entertainment
But long I staid not at his palace for I am forcd to wander
What wilt thou leave us too said Heva thou shalt not leave us too
For we have many sports to shew thee & many songs to sing
And after dinner we will walk into the cage of Har
And thou shalt help us to catch birds. & gather them ripe cherries
Then let thy name be Tiriel & never leave us more
If thou dost go said Har I wish thine eyes may see thy folly
My sons have left me did thine leave thee O twas very cruel
No venerable man said Tiriel ask me not such things
For thou dost make my heart to bleed my sons were not like thine
But worse O never ask me more or I must flee away
Thou shalt not go said Heva till thou hast seen our singing birds
And heard Har sing in the great cage & slept upon our fleeces
Go not for thou art so like Tiriel. that I love thine head
Tho it is wrinkled like the earth parchd with the summer heat
Then Tiriel rose up from the seat & said god bless these tents
My Journey is oer rocks & mountains. not in pleasant vales
I must not sleep nor rest because of madness & dismay
And Mnetha said Thou must not go to wander dark. alone
But dwell with us & let us be to thee instead of eyes
And I will bring thee food old man. till death shall call thee hence
Then Tiriel frownd & answerd. Did I not command you saying
Madness & deep dismay posses[s] the heart of the blind man
The wanderer who seeks the woods leaning upon his staff
Then Mnetha trembling at his frowns led him to the tent door
And gave to him his staff & blest him. he went on his way
But Har & Heva stood & watchd him till he enterd the wood
And then they went & wept to Mnetha. but they soon forgot their tears

4[edit]

Over the weary hills the blind man took his lonely way
To him the day & night alike was dark & desolate
But far he had not gone when Ijim from his woods come down
Met him at entrance of the forest in a dark & lonely way
Who art thou Eyeless wretch that thus obstructst the lions path
Ijim shall rend thy feeble joints thou tempter of dark Ijim
Thous hast the form of Tiriel but I know thee well enough
Stand from my path foul fiend is this the las of thy deceits
To be a hypocrite & stand in shape of a blind beggar
The blind man heard his brothers voice & kneeld down on his knee
O brother Ijim if it is thy voice that speaks to me
Smite not thy brother Tiriel tho weary of his life
My sons have smitten me already. and if thou smitest me
The curse that rolls over their heads will rest itself on thine
Tis now seven years since in my palace I beheld thy face
Come thou dark fiend I dare thy cunning know that Ijim scorns
To smite the[e] in the form of helpless age & eyeless policy
Rise up for I discern thee & I dare thy eloquent tongue
Come I will lead thee on thy way & use thee as a scoff
O Brother Ijim thou beholdest wretched Tiriel
Kiss me my brother & then leave me to wander desolate
No artful fiend. but I will lead thee dost thou want to go
Reply not lest I bind thee with the green flags of the brook
Ay now thou art discoverd I will use thee like a slave
When Tiriel heard the words of Ijim he sought not to reply
He knew twas vain for Ijims words were as the voice of Fate
And they went on together over hills thro woody dales
Blind to the pleasures of the sight & deaf to warbling birds
All day they walkd & all the night beneath the pleasant Moon
Westwardly journeying till Tiriel grew weary with his travel
O Ijim I am faint & weary for my knees forbid
To bear me further. urge me not lest I should die with travel
A little rest I crave a little water from a brook
Or I shall soon discover that I am a mortal man
And you will lose your once lovd Tiriel alas how fain I am
Impudent fiend said Ijim hold thy glib & eloquent tongue
Tiriel is a king. & thou the tempter of dark Ijim
Drink of this runing brook. & I will bear thee on my shoulders
He drank & Ijim raisd him up & bore him on his shoulders
All day he bore him & when evening drew her solemn curtain
Enterd the gates of Tiriels palace. & stood & calld aloud
Heuxos come forth I here have brought the fiend that troubles Ijim
Look knowst thou aught of this grey beard. or of these blinded eyes
Heuxos & Lotho ran forth at the sound of Ijims voice
And saw their aged father borne upon his mighty shoulders
Their eloquent tongues were dumb & sweat stood on. their trembling limbs
They knew twas vain to strive with Ijim they bowd & silent stood
What Heuxos call thy father for I mean to sport to night
This is the Hypocritc that sometimes roars a dreadful lion
Then I have rent his limbs & left him rotting in the forest
For birds to eat but I have scarce departed from the place
But like a tyger he would come & so I rent him too
Then like a river be would seek to drown me in his waves
But soon I buffetted the torrent anon like to a cloud
Fraught with the swords of lightning. but I bravd the vengeance too
Then he would creep like a bright serpent till around my neck
While I was Sleeping he would twine I squeezd his poisnous soul
Then like a toad or like a newt. would whisper in my ears
Or like a rock stood in my way. or like a poisnous shrub
At last I caught him in the form of Tiriel blind & old
And so Ill keep him fetch your father fetch forth Myratana
They stood confounded. and Thus Tiriel raisd his silver voice
Serpents not sons why do you stand fetch hither Tiriel
Fetch hither Myratana & delight yourselves with scoffs
For poor blind Tiriel is returnd & this much injurd head
Is ready for your bitter taunts. come forth sons of the curse
Mean time the other sons of Tiriel ran around their father
Confounded at the terrible strength of Ijim they knew twas vain
Both spear & shield were useless & the coat of iron mail
When Ijim stretchd his mighty arm. the arrow from his limbs
Rebounded & the piercing sword broke on his naked flesh
Then is it true Heuxos that thou hast turnd thy aged parent
To be the sport of wintry winds. (said Ijim) is this true
It is a lie & I am like the tree torn by the wind
Thou eyeless fiend. & you dissemblers. Is this Tiriels house
It is as false [as] Matha. & as dark as vacant Orcus
Escape ye fiends for Ijim will not lift his hand against ye
So saying. Ijim gloomy turnd his back & silent sought
The secret forests & all night wanderd in desolate ways

5[edit]

And aged Tiriel stood & said where does the thunder sleep
Where doth he hide his terrible head & his swift & fiery daughters
Where do they shroud their fiery wings & the terrors of their hair
Earth thus I stamp thy bosom rouse the earthquake from his den
To raise his dark & burning visage thro the cleaving ground
To thrust these towers with his shoulders. let his fiery dogs
Rise from the center belching flames & roarings. dark smoke
Where art thou Pestilence that bathest in fogs & standing lakes
Rise up thy sluggish limbs. & let the loathsomest of poisons
Drop from thy garments as thou walkest. wrapt in yellow clouds
Here take thy seat. in this wide court. let it be strewn with dead
And sit & smile upon these cursed sons of Tiriel
Thunder & fire & pestilence. here you not Tiriels curse
He ceast the heavy clouds confusd rolld round the lofty towers
Discharging their enormous voices. at the fathers curse
The earth trembled fires belched from the yawning clefts
And when the shaking ceast a fog possest the accursed clime
The cry was great in Tiriels palace his five daughters ran
And caught him by the garments weeping with cries of bitter woe
Aye now you feel the curse you cry. but may all ears be deaf
As Tiriels & all eyes as blind as Tiriels to your woes
May never stars shine on your roofs may never sun nor moon
Visit you but eternal fogs hover around your walls
Hela my youngest daughter you shall lead me from this place
And let the curse fall on the rest & wrap them up together
He ceast & Hela led her father from the noisom place
In haste they fled while all the sons & daughters of Tiriel
Chaind in thick darkness utterd cries of mourning all the night
And in the morning Lo an hundred men in ghastly death
The four daughters stretchd on the marble pavement silent all
falln by the pestilence the rest moped round in guilty fears
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

6[edit]

And Hela led her father thro the silent of the night
Astonishd silent. till the morning beams began to spring
Now Hela I can go with pleasure & dwell with Har & Heva
Now that the curse shall clean devour all those guilty sons
This is the right & ready way I know it by the sound
That our feet make. Remember Hela I have savd thee from death
Then be obedient to thy father for the curse is taken off thee
I dwelt with Myratana five years in the desolate rock
And all that time we waited for the fire to fall from heaven
Or for the torrents of the sea to overwhelm you all
But now my wife is dead & all the time of grace is past
You see the parents curse. Now lead me where I have commanded
O Leagued with evil spirits thou accursed man of sin
True I was born thy slave who askd thee to save me from death—
Twas for thy self thou cruel man because thou wantest eyes
True Hela this is the desert of all those cruel ones
Is Tiriel cruel look. his daughter & his youngest daughter
Laughs at affection glories in rebellion. scoffs at Love:—
I have not eat these two days lead me to Har & Hevas tent
Or I will wrap the[e] up in such a terrible fathers curse
That thou shalt feel worms in thy marrow creeping thro thy bones
Yet thou shalt lead me. Lead me I command to Har & Heva
O cruel O destroyer O consumer. O avenger
To Har & Heva I will lead thee then would that they would curse
Then would they curse as thou hast cursed but they are not like thee
O they are holy. & forgiving filld with loving mercy
Forgetting the offences of their most rebellious children
Or else thou wouldest not have livd to curse thy helpless children
Look on my eyes Hela & see for thou has eyes to see
The tears swell from my stony fountains. wherefore do I weep
Wherefore from my blind orbs art thou not siezd with poisnous stings
Laugh serpent youngest venomous reptile of the flesh of Tiriel
Laugh. for thy father Tiriel shall give the[e] cause to laugh
Unless thou lead me to the tent of Har child of the curse
Silence thy evil tongue thou murderer of thy helpless children
I lead thee to the tent of Har not that I mind thy curse
But that I feel they will curse thee & hang upon thy bones
Fell shaking agonies. & in each wrinkle of that face
Plant worms of death to feast upon the tongue of terrible curses
Hela my daughter listen. thou art the daughter of Tiriel
Thy father calls. Thy father lifts his hand unto the heavens
For thou hast laughed at my tears. & curst thy aged father
Let snakes rise from thy bedded locks & laugh among thy curls
He ceast her dark hair upright stood while snakes infolded round
Her madding brows. her shrieks apalld the soul of Tiriel
What have I done Hela my daughter fearst thou now the curse
Or wherefore dost thou cry Ah wretch to curse thy aged father
Lead me to Har & Heva & the curse of Tiriel
Shall fail. If thou refuse howl in the desolate mountains

7[edit]

She howling led him over mountains & thro frighted vales
Till to the caves of Zazel they approachd at even tide
Forth from their caves old Zazel & his sons ran. when they saw
Their tyrant prince blind & his daughter howling & leading him
They laughd & mocked some threw dirt & stones as they passd by
But when Tiriel turnd around & raisd his awful voice
Some fled away but Zazel stood still & thus began
Bald tyrant. wrinkled cunning listen to Zazels chains
Twas thou that chaind thy brother Zazel where are now thine eyes
Shout beautiful daughter of Tiriel. thou singest a sweet song
Where are you going. come & eat some roots & drink some water
Thy crown is bald old man. the sun will dry thy brains away
And thou wilt be as foolish as thy foolish brother Zazel
The blind man heard. & smote his breast & trembling passed on
They threw dirt after them. till to the covert of a wood
The howling maiden led her father where wild beasts resort
Hoping to end her woes. but from her cries the tygers fled
All night they wanderd thro the wood & when the sun arose
They enterd on the mountains of Har at Noon the happy tents
Were frighted by the dismal cries of Hela on the mountains
But Har & Heva slept fearless as babes. on loving breasts
Mnetha awoke she ran & stood at the tent door & saw
The aged wanderer led towards the tents she took her bow
And chose her arrows then advancd to meet the terrible pair

8[edit]

And Mnetha hasted & met them at the gate of the lower garden
Stand still or from my bow receive a sharp & winged death
Then Tiriel stood. saying what soft voice threatens such bitter things
Lead me to Har & Heva I am Tiriel King of the west
And Mnetha led them to the tent of Har. and Har & Heva
Ran to the door. when Tiriel felt the ankles of aged Har
He said. O weak mistaken father of a lawless race
Thy laws O Har & Tiriels wisdom end together in a curse
Why is one law given to the lion & th patient Ox
And why men bound beneath the heavens in a reptile form
A worm of sixty winters creeping on the dusky ground
The child springs from the womb. the father ready stands to form
The infant head while the mother idle plays with her dog on her couch
The young bosom is cold for lack of mothers nourishment & milk
Is cut off from the weeping mouth with difficulty & pain
The little lids are lifted & the little nostrils opend
The father forms a whip to rouze the sluggish senses to act
And scourges off all youthful fancies from the newborn man
Then walks the weak infant in sorrow compelld to number footsteps
Upon the sand. &c
And when the drone has reachd his crawling length
Black berries appear that poison all around him. Such was Tiriel
Compelld to pray repugnant & to humble the immortal spirit
Till I am subtil as a serpent in a paradise
Consuming all both flowers & fruits insects & warbling birds
And now my paradise is falln & a drear sandy plain
Returns my thirsty hissings in a curse on thee O Har
Mistaken father of a lawless race my voice is past
He ceast outstretchd at Har & Hevas feet in awful death

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.