TEXTS (PDF Downloads):
Scene 1 (Intro), Scene 2, Scene 3 (Proverbs of Hell), Scene 4 (Chorus)
The Story of the "Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by Knut Remond
In 1793, Henry Fuseli wrote and told William Blake about the mineral
mine of Lengenbach in the Swiss Valaisan Binn Valley with great empathy and beseeching passion. Fuseli
persuaded Blake to visit the mineral mine of Lengenbach in order to
take own notes there and become witness of such indescribable,
mysterious and strange phenomena as those to be encountered in this
mine. It was certainly necessary for him to apply an intense power of
conviction, at the same time as he had to invest many hours of
conversation with Blake, as his friend had never in his life so far
left the city of London. From 1790 until 1793 William Blake was
occupied with his work on "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.
Henry Fuseli and his wife Sophia Rawlins had travelled from London to
the Swiss Binn Valley (Goms) in 1793 with the aim of visiting the mine
of Lengenbach (this is verified through a letter to W. Blake that was
found in a private collection in Paris in 2004: "The Letter" can be
found at the beginning of this website). Henry Fuseli's drawings and
oil paintings from Lengenbach, which are in private possession in
Paris, where they were discovered last year, are of great importance.
So the married couple Fuseli-Rawling travelled to the Binntal. In his
free time, Fuseli was an enthusiastic hobby entomologist (insect
researcher), and, being Swiss, he did not want to withhold the Valais
with its majestic mountains from his wife, Sophia Rawlins, who was
English. According to sources of art history one can today securely
assume that the couple intended to closely inspect the beauty and
extreme variety of the location. In addition, there exists the option
of reaching Italy on foot via two wonderful footpaths. One of these
paths to Italy leads immediately past the mineral mine of Lengenbach;
its name is "Geisspfad” (goat's path) or smuggler's path. The other
access to Italy leads along the "Albrunpass” (Roman road).
Along this path, Fuseli and Rawlins had reached the Binn valley coming
from Genoa. There exist no documents, which state whether they
continued their journey to Italy after their stay in the Binn valley.
This seems probable due to the fact that Michelangelo, Raphael etc.,
Italian art, were highly important in Henry Fuseli's view. He lived in
Rome from 1770-1778.
Not long ago, a letter by Henry Fuseli
was found in Paris, as mentioned above. In this letter, he describes
the butterfly "Apollo", which he had observed in the mineral mine of
Lengenbach, with deep affection and powerful poetry. He also reports
about extremely mysterious encounters in the mineral mine!
For Sophia Rawlins and Henry Fuseli, this period in the Binntal valley
was the most interesting and, at the same time, the most moving and
unforgettable time of their lives.
What was of great
interest, though, for W. Blake, and lead to a large amount of sleepless
nights, was the part of the letter, in which Fuseli reports him and his
wife Sophia witnessing, how, close to the mineral mine of Lengenbach,
mysterious and bizarre noises were to be heard from sounding creatures
and dancing beings.
William Blake embarks on an adventurous
journey from London to the Binntal valley. As he arrives at the mineral
mine he is – as are the spectators themselves – surprised by
extraordinary acoustic and visual impressions. Embedded in and
surrounded by sound spirits, voices and stilt dancers, he is
unexpectedly integrated into the staging of his texts in the patois of
the Valais and in English.