Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Blake introduces us to Rintrah at the beginning of The Marriage of Heaven & Hell. Rintrah is the observer while the just man, the villain and the serpent are brought together to work through the contraries of man's experience. The just man assumes the rage of Rintrah when he leaves the path of ease and encounters the villain.
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 2, (E 33)
             "The Argument.
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep

Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along 
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow.
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.

Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river, and a spring
On every cliff and tomb;
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.

Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.

Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility.
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.

Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep."
Rintrah is not a trouble maker but he enters into troubled situations. When he does, he brings things to a head usually involving violence. In the Bard's Song in Blake's Milton, Rintrah becomes involved in the dispute between Satan and Palamabron.

Milton, Plate 8, (E 101)
"Then Los took off his left sandal placing it on his head,
Signal of solemn mourning: when the servants of the Mills
Beheld the signal they in silence stood, tho' drunk with wine.
Los wept! But Rintrah also came, and Enitharmon on
His arm lean'd tremblingly observing all these things 

And Los said. Ye Genii of the Mills! the Sun is on high
Your labours call you! Palamabron is also in sad dilemma;
His horses are mad! his Harrow confounded! his companions enrag'd.
Mine is the fault! I should have remember'd that pity divides the soul
And man, unmans: follow with me my Plow. this mournful day    
Must be a blank in Nature: follow with me, and tomorrow again
Resume your labours, & this day shall be a mournful day

Wildly they follow'd Los and Rintrah, & the Mills were silent
They mourn'd all day this mournful day of Satan & Palamabron:
And all the Elect & all the Redeem'd mourn'd one toward another  
Upon the mountains of Albion among the cliffs of the Dead.
But Rintrah who is of the reprobate: of those form'd to destruction
In indignation. for Satans soft dissimulation of friendship!  
Flam'd above all the plowed furrows, angry red and furious,
Then rose the Two Witnesses, Rintrah & Palamabron:
And Palamabron appeal'd to all Eden, and recievd
Judgment: and Lo! it fell on Rintrah and his rage:           
Which now flam'd high & furious in Satan against Palamabron
Till it became a proverb in Eden. Satan is among the Reprobate."

Wikipedia Commons
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
Rintrah is of the Class of Men which Blake calls the Reprobate. He is society's outsider, not because he is against society but because society is against him. By observing the failures of society and by listening to a voice from another source, he becomes a witness against the establishment.

Harold Bloom in the commentary of The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake states on page 896, "Rintrah is an angry Elijah or John the Baptist; a prophetic spirit who prepares a way for a redeemer."  

In the Bard's Song it is Rintrah who is assigned guilt by the Eternals. He was strong enough and had enough faith to bear the guilt for others. Blake could include Jesus in his Class of Reprobate because Jesus refused obedience to the letter of the Law of Moses and was executed as a criminal.

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E 107)
"For then the Body of Death was perfected in hypocritic holiness, 

Around the Lamb, a Female Tabernacle woven in Cathedrons Looms
He died as a Reprobate. he was Punish'd as a Transgressor!
Glory! Glory! Glory! to the Holy Lamb of God
I touch the heavens as an instrument to glorify the Lord!

The Elect shall meet the Redeem'd. on Albions rocks they shall meet      
Astonish'd at the Transgressor, in him beholding the Saviour.
And the Elect shall say to the Redeemd. We behold it is of Divine
Mercy alone! of Free Gift and Election that we live.
Our Virtues & Cruel Goodnesses, have deserv'd Eternal Death.
Thus they weep upon the fatal Brook of Albions River."           

Quoting from Damon's A Blake Dictionary, Page 452:
"Wrath is Revolution. It is the explosive which wrecks the oppressive past of Experience. When things have been too bad for too long, the human being reacts in a blind outburst, which springs from a deeper wisdom than the tame horses of instruction."
"Rintrah (wrath at the state of things) and his brother Palamabron (pity for its victims) usually work together...One should of course distinguish between different types of Wrath. The wrath of the Lion is the protection of the flocks; the wrath of the Tyger is the blind, impersonal rage of revolution, the wrath of Urizen is the satanic desire to murder opposition."


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