The element of Tharmas is water. He is pictured here raising his head above the angry waters of the ocean. As the body of man, Tharmas provides the sea of time and space in which man functions. Damon (A Blake Dictionary) tells us: "All forms of water signify Matter, the Flood was the overwhelming of mankind with Matter, which separated them from Eternity." (Page 300)
Small Book of Designs
From Page 24, Book of Urizen
So man enters the Body, the great flood of sensation, the world of matter, the Circle of Destiny. Time and Space become the milieu which confine and separate man from Eternity.
Enion separated from Tharmas weaves from the outer and inner ability to perceive, a material instrument of perception; the physical body enclosing the spirit. Tharmas is consumed with rage and repentance over the loss of Enion.
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 5, (E 302)
"Singing her lamentation. Tharmas groand among his Clouds
Weeping, then bending from his Clouds he stoopd his innocent head
And stretching out his holy hand in the vast Deep sublime
Turnd round the circle of Destiny with tears & bitter sighs
And said. Return O Wanderer when the Day of Clouds is oer
So saying he sunk down into the sea a pale white corse
In torment he sunk down & flowd among her filmy Woof
His Spectre issuing from his feet in flames of fire
In gnawing pain drawn out by her lovd fingers every nerve
She counted. every vein & lacteal threading them among
Her woof of terror. Terrified & drinking tears of woe
Shuddring she wove--nine days & nights Sleepless her food was tears
Wondring she saw her woof begin to animate. & not
As Garments woven subservient to her hands but having a will
Of its own perverse & wayward Enion lovd & wept
Nine days she labourd at her work. & nine dark sleepless nights
But on the tenth trembling morn the Circle of Destiny Complete
Round rolld the Sea Englobing in a watry Globe self balancd
A Frowning Continent appeard Where Enion in the Desart
Terrified in her own Creation viewing her woven shadow
Sat in a dread intoxication of Repentance & Contrition"
Reading from Milton O Percival's William Blake's Circle of Destiny we find that:
"He [Tharmas] will be what he can, but she [Enion] must remain in the deeps of matter, where her misguided efforts led her. A dual physical world has been achieved. It is the complement to the duality already achieved in the moral world."
"Still, Tharmas is not satisfied. Though as the principle of life within the physical universe he scorns matter, he cannot live without it. Separated from Enion, he finds himself little more than a formless and meaningless will to be. What is more he can find no release from his suffering; he is now 'immortal in immortal torment.' Deathless in his despair, he wanders seeking oblivion. Enion alone can provide it. It is to satisfy this hunger of one contrary for the other that the mortal world is made. It is built at Tharmas' command in forms of 'death and decay,' in the hope that 'some little semblance' of Enion may return. In short, a mortal world is the logical answer to a dualism of spirit and matter. It is the only conceivable world that will take account of both the physical contraries, one of which has been driven into matter." (Page 184)
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 11, (E 306)
"Tho in the Brain of Man we live, & in his circling Nerves.
Tho' this bright world of all our joy is in the Human Brain.
Where Urizen & all his Hosts hang their immortal lamps
Thou neer shalt leave this cold expanse where watry Tharmas mourns
So spoke Los. Scorn & Indignation rose upon Enitharmon
Then Enitharmon reddning fierce stretchd her immortal hands
Descend O Urizen descend with horse & chariots
Threaten not me O visionary thine the punishment
The Human Nature shall no more remain nor Human acts
Form the rebellious Spirits of Heaven. but War & Princedom & Victory & Blood"
Four Zoas, Night IV, PAGE 47, (E 331)
"Ah Enion Ah Enion Ah lovely l vely Enion
How is this All my hope is gone for ever fled
Like a famishd Eagle Eyeless raging in the vast expanse
Incessant tears are now my food. incessant rage & tears
Deathless for ever now I wander seeking oblivion
In torrents of despair in vain. for if I plunge beneath
Stifling I live. If dashd in pieces from a rocky height
I reunite in endless torment. would I had never risen
From deaths cold sleep beneath the bottom of the raging Ocean
And cannot those who once have lovd. ever forget their Love?
Are love & rage the same passion? they are the same in me
Are those who love. like those who died. risen again from death
Immortal. in immortal torment. never to be deliverd
Is it not possible that one risen again from Death
Can die! When dark despair comes over [me] can I not
Flow down into the sea & slumber in oblivion. Ah Enion
Deformd I see these lineaments of ungratified Desire
The all powerful curse of an honest man be upon Urizen & Luvah
But thou My Son Glorious in brightness comforter of Tharmas
Go forth Rebuild this Universe beneath my indignant power
A Universe of Death & Decay. Let Enitharmons hands
Weave soft delusive forms of Man above my watry world
Renew these ruind souls of Men thro Earth Sea Air & Fire
To waste in endless corruption. renew thou I will destroy
Perhaps Enion may resume some little semblance
To ease my pangs of heart & to restore some peace to Tharmas"
Blake is working out his complicated process for explaining the fall of man and his eventual return to Eternity.