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Rintrah Roars

Cover of William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”

I find myself coming back to it again and again. Ever since I was a student in college, I regarded William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” one of the greatest poems in the English language. Following is the opening of it, or “The Argument”—very appropriate as we wait for a rare thunderstorm to arrive around midnight.

The Argument

Rintrah roars and shakes his fires in the burdened 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 and shakes his fires in the burdened air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.

I love the second last stanza about the just man raging in the wilds. As I despondently view the condition of the Republic under Trump as his brigands, the following quote from the second part of the poem gives me hope:

Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.

From these contraries spring what the religious call Good and Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy.

Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.

All we could do is grasp the hide of the Tiger that is History and try not to fall off.

 

One thought on “Rintrah Roars

  1. Love your comments, I studied Blake intensively when at university, his collected works is a book I cannot part with, no matter how small my house becomes, and we are about to move to an even smaller house than we are currently living with.

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