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)
Thir living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous Altar, bowing lowly down
To bestiall gods; for which thir heads as low
Bow'd down in battell, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians call'd
Astarte queen of heav'n, with crescent horns;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins pay'd thir vows and songs,
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king whose heart though large,
Beguil'd by fair Idolatresses, fell
To Idolls foule. Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annuall wound in Lebanon allur'd
The Syrian damsells to lament his fate
In amorous dittyes all a summers day,
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, suppos'd with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale
Infected Sions daughters with like heate,
Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led
His eye survay'd the dark Idolatries
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 11r)