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 which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;
Yet to their Generalls voice they soon obai'd;
Innumerable. As when the potent rod
Of Amrams son in Egipts evill day
Wav'd round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud
Of Locusts, warping on the Eastern wind,
That ore the realm of impious Pharoah hung
Like night, and dark'n'd all the Land of Nile.
So numberless were those bad Angells seen
Hovering on wing under the cope of Hell
T'wixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
Till, as a signal given, th' uplifted speare
Of thir great Sultan waving to direct
Their course, in even ballance down they light
On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain;
A multitude, like which the populous North
Pour'd never from her frozen loyns, to passe
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
Forthwith from every squadron and each band
The heads and Leaders thither hast where stood
Thir great Commander; Godlike shap's & formes
Excelling human, Princely dignities,
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 9r)