Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904
This 33-page manuscript is all that remains of the many drafts and fair copies of the evolving text of Milton's biblical epic Paradise Lost. After he lost his sight, Milton relied on several copyists, to transcribe the verses he composed in solitude and to assist him as he revised. This manuscript, which has been marked up lightly by at least five different hands, consists of the text of Book I as it was delivered to Samuel Simmons, the printer of the 1667 first edition. Simmons probably retained these sheets and passed them on to later copyright holders because they bear the imprimatur, or publishing license, issued by the English government.
Of mans first disobedience, & the fruit
Of that forbidd'n tree, whose mortall tast
Brought death into the world, & all our woe,
With losse of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, & regaine the blisfull seate,
Sing heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb or of Sinai didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the Heav'ns & Earth
Rose out of Chaos: Or if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brooke that flow'd
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aide to my adventrous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soare
Above th' Aonian Mount; while it persues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rime.
And cheifly thou O Spirit that dost prefer
Before all temples th' upright heart & pure
Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first
Wast present, & with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abysse,
And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is darke
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
The invocation to the muse from Paradise Lost is recited by Mark Rylance.
Photography by Graham Haber.