Two prints by William Blake from his c. 1790 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, reproduced in The Illuminated Books of William Blake, Volume 3.

liberating flames

On the operation of Fire (plate 14, p166):

The ancient tradition that the world will be con
sumed in fire at the end of six thousand years
is true, as I have heard from Hell,

For the cherub with his flaming sword is
hereby commanded to leave his guard at tree of
life, and when he does, the whole creation will
be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy
whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.

This will come to pass by an improvement of
sensual enjoyment.

But first the notion that man has a body
distinct from his soul, is to be expunged; this
I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by
corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and me-
-dicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and
displaying the infinite which was hid,

If the doors of perception were cleansed
every thing would appear to man as it is, in-

For man has closed himself up, till he sees
all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

More on the ‘doors of perception’ (plate 15, p168):

A Memorable Fancy

I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the
method in which knowledge is transmitted from gene-
-ration to generation.

In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clear-
ing away the rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a
number of Dragons were hollowing the cave,

In the second chamber was a Viper folding round
the rock & the cave, and others adorning it with gold
silver and precious stones.

In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings
and feathers of air, he caused the inside of the cave
to be infinite, around were numbers of Eagle like
men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.

In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire
raging around & melting the metals into living fluids.

In the fifth chamber were Unnam’d forms, which
cast the metals into the expanse,

There they were reciev’d by Men who occupied
the sixth chamber, and took the forms of books &
were arranged in libraries.

eagle holding serpent

3 Responses to “A Perpetual Equilibrium betwixt Heaven and Hell”

  1. Solomon Blaz Says:

    thro’ the narrow chinks of this cavern: it appears that Blake rocks harder like a magic kiss!

  2. m. Says:

    Two notes:
    1) ” Philosophers by Fire” is another name for alchemists. Quite appropriate, I might say, as Fire is the principal agent of the Work. Fire is essential in many ways: in moderate doses it provides warmth, allowing beings to grow. Fire also burns, and thus is the chief tool for purification and cleansing (Hell is a fiery place, where impure souls are melted…)

    2)Blake developed a very sophisticated “mythology” of his own, which, I regret to say, it still largely unexplored and poorly understood. I hope you”ll go back to present several blakeian themes on your blog, for instance the fourfold vision described in the seminal letter to Thomas Butts, 22 November 1802.

  3. Hoping for hell Says:

    […] trauma, then, I can think of no better “heaven” to this hell than in William Blake‘s […]

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