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)
Of Southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim Seons realm, beyond
The flowry dale of Sibma clad with vines,
And Eleale to th' Asphaltick poole.
Peor his other name, when he entic'd
Israel in Sittim on thir march from Nile
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence his lustfull Orgies he enlarg'd
Even to that hill of scandall, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to hell.
With these came they, who from the bord'ring flood
Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egipt from Syrian ground, had generall names
Of Baalim and Ashtaroth, those male
These feminine. For spirits when they please
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is thir essence pure;
Not ti'd or manacl'd with joint or lim,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but in what shape they chuse
Dilated or condens'd, bright or obscure,
Can execute thir aerie purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfill.
For these the race of Israel oft forsook
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 10v)