To celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the
birth of John Milton (1608–1674), The Morgan Library
& Museum is pleased to present the only surviving
manuscript of Paradise Lost, Book 1. This epic poem is
considered Milton's greatest artistic achievement and
one of the finest works of the human imagination.
Acquired by Pierpont Morgan in 1904, it is the most
important British literary manuscript in the collection.
The 33-page manuscript has been temporarily disbound,
providing an opportunity to see more of its pages than
ever before. Also in this presentation are
first editions of Paradise Lost printed in England and the
United States during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries and a rarely seen miniature portrait of the poet.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.
The images of the Paradise Lost manuscript have been digitally enhanced and do not show conservation treatment.
John Milton (1608–1674)
In arms not worse, in foresight much advanc't,
Wee may with more successfull hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternall warr
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, & in th' excesse of joy
Sole raigning holds the Tyranny of Heaven.
So spake th' Apostate Angell, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but wrackt with deep despair:
And him thus answer'd soon his bold Compeer:
O Prince, O Cheife of many throned powers,
That led th' imbattelld Seraphim to warr
Under thy Conduct, & in dreadfull deeds
Fearless; endanger'd Heavens perpetuall King;
And put to proof his high Supremacy,
Whither upheld by strength or chance or fate;
Too well I see and rue the dire event,
That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host
In horrible destruction layd thus low
As farr as Gods and heavenly Essences
Can perish: for the mind and spirit remaines
Invincible, and vigour soon returnes,
Though all our glory extinct, and happie state
Here swallow'd up in endlesse misery.
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 4v)