Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thel 4

PLATE 2
Why should the mistress of the vales of Har, utter a sigh.
She ceasd & smild in tears, then sat down in her silver shrine.Thel answerd. 
O thou little virgin of the peaceful valley.
Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o'ertired.
Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy milky
garments,
He crops thy flowers. while thou sittest smiling in his face,
Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints.
Thy wine doth purify the golden honey, thy perfume,
Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of grass that
springs
Revives the milked cow, & tames the fire-breathing steed.
But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising sun:
I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my place.
Queen of the vales the Lilly answerd, ask the tender cloud,
And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky,
And why it scatters its bright beauty thro' the humid air.
Descend O little cloud & hover before the eyes of Thel.
The Cloud descended, and the Lilly bowd her modest head:
And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant grass.
We meet Har in a previously written Blake poem called Tiriel.

This from wikipedia:
.[5] Various interpretations of the character have been proposed, including the idea that she is an unborn soul who refuses to live as a mortal in the material world[6] or that Thel is an immature human virgin who shies away from the life of mature sexuality.[6] Another popular interpretation sees Thel as emblematic not only of the surface of female frailty, but of the feminine frailty of humankind in general.[7]

  • The Lily of the Valley - The Lily is the first character that Thel encounters in the Vales of Har.
  • She is an adult female who, like Thel, views herself as playing a transient and insignificant part in the larger world. Nevertheless, the Lily informs Thel that even she, a "wat'ry weed" is valued and cared for by God. Scholar Steven Clark interprets the Lily's value in God's eyes as a commentary on patriarchal society. In Clark's view, the Lily has been taught to think of herself as a little weed instead of something inherently beautiful.[8] 

  • Each morning, God comes down with the rising sun to remind the Lily that she is meek and a dweller of lowly places. She is reassured only by God’s promises of life after death in heaven.[8] The Lily is a female character who advocates fulfillment though serving others. Her advice is intended to quell Thel's anxiety and convince that she need not worry. However, the Lily’s advice fails.
  • The Cloud:
  • Having failed to convince Thel, the Lily summons the Cloud after Thel compares 
  • herself to a fleeting cloud, which vanishes into the air as it ends its existence.[9] Unlike Thel’s comparison, the Cloud that appears is more than a conventional symbol of mutability and mortality.[10] The Cloud, as the only explicitly male figure in the poem, makes a valid suggestion of courtship and marriage with Thel.[5]
  • The Worm - The Worm is a double symbol, acting as an infant and also as a penis. Thel reacts to each symbol in a specific way. When the Worm is acting as an infant, Thel feels sorry for the helpless Worm, but still refuses to assist it. When the Worm appears as a penis to Thel, she immediately rejects it and mocks it, calling it an image of weakness.[11]

  • The Clod of Clay is depicted as the maternal figure for the infant worm.[12] 
  • The Clod has accepted the hypocritical male philosophy that teaches that we do not live for ourselves. The Clod is incapable of self-confidence and she is incapable of change because she lacks the ability to question her condition.[12] The Clod cannot tell right from wrong because she has been a victim of abuse by the oppression of a male dominated realm. What the Clod does have is the capacity to love, as she shows the reader through her interactions with the infant Worm.[13] Even though the Clod preaches to Thel about the troubles of marriage, Thel retains her benign image of marriage.[14

2 comments:

Susan J. said...

"the feminine frailty of humanity in general" -- I like that!

I'm also flashing on all the news nonsense these days recapping that horrible old chick-flick "Thelma and Louise" - Thel-ma, get it?

ellie said...

Clever!