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)
And broken chariot wheeles. so thick bestrown
Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazment of thir hideous change.
He calld so loud, that all the hollow deeps
Of Hell resounded. Princes, Potentates,
Warriers, the flower of Heav'n, once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seise
Eternal spirits: or have ye chos'n this place
After the toyle of battell to repose
Your wearied vertue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heav'n?
Or in this abject posture have yee sworne
To adore the Conquerour? who now beholds
Cherube and Seraph rowling in the flood
With scatter'd arms and Ensigns, till anon
His swift persuers from Heav'n gates discern
Th' advantage, and descending tread us downe
Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulfe.
Awake, arise, or bee for ever fal'n.
[They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprung
Upon the wing; as when men wont to watch
On duty, sleeping found by whom they dread,
Rouse and bestirr themselves ere well awake.
Nor did they not perceive the evill plight
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 8v)