Here take thy seat in this wide court; let it be strewn with dead
And sit & smile upon these cursed sons of Tiriel
This poem begins in media res with the title character bearing home his dying wife; he arrives at the kingdom of his children just before his wife dies and the story of his exile is slowly brought out over the course of the poem which follows Tiriel has he wanders the land, desolate and alone, slowly descending into madness. It’s, you know, bleak; really bleak, actually. Ultimately probably the bleakest of all of Blake’s works for the simple reason that there’s really no redemption for any of the characters. There’s a lot of symbolism here and a lot of layered references. There’s definitely shades of King Lear in Tiriel, particularly in his fraught relationship with his children, particularly his tormented daughter Hela. There’s something about the civilized man versus nature in the relationship between the kingly, if insane, Tiriel and his brother Ijim, a wild man who lives alone in the mountains, equally insane in his own way. It’s pretty short and it was abandoned by Blake, never published during his life-time. I really liked it though; it’s got vivid imagery & poetic archetypes, but it also feels genuinely emotional and tortured. As symbolic as it is, the characters and their tragic lives really came alive for me. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr –unpublished during Blake’s lifetime, this poem’s narrative of family tragedy resonates on an emotional level, even as the deep symbolism fires the imagination. 3 ½ stars.