A Memorable Fancy I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation. In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing 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. ____________________________________________________
Blake's printing house in hell: Look at this comment:
"The juxtaposition of printmaker and poet in Blake's illustrations takes the systematized process of
engraving, whose end result produces art." from (William Blake's Reception.) 'Hell' at this point signifies Blake's studio.
His 'six chambers' are reminescent of the four zoas, listed as follows:
(See Fearful Symmetry p.277)
MHH might be considered a source of the development of The Four Zoas, but in the Unholy Bible a detailed discussion of the caverns of the Cave begins with Cecrops of Greek Mythology who was half man and half (in the lower half) dragon. Blake was probably familiar with that myth.
The rubbish the dragon-man cleared away, Singer says, is the 'debris of materialism' that prevents man from having any interest in anything else.
The viper (or snake) is Satan who tempts man with all sorts of beauty such as gold and siver and precious stones; he is the "cherub with the flaming sword" that keeps us out of Eden.
"16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire."
In the third chamber the eagle expands the cave to Infinity. The eagle is the polar opposite to the viper. Notice the picture of the eagle,especially the color.
The lions in the fourth chamber are equivalent to Blake's furnaces:
The 'cave' might be considered a commentary on Plato's 'cave'.
Here are two earlier posts on this subject:
The Printing House Printing House II