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.
John Milton (1608–1674)
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' Ionian Gods, of Javans issue held
Gods, yet confest later then heav'n and earth
Thir boasted parents; Titan heav'ns first born
With his enormous brood, and birthright seis'd
By younger Saturn, hee from mightier Jove
His own and Rhea's sonne like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Creet
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle air
Thir highest heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,
And ore the Celtic roam'd the utmost Iles.
All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Downcast and damp, yet such wherein appear'd
Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found thir cheife
Not in despaire, to have found themselves not lost
In loss it selfe; which on his count'nance cast
Like doubtfull hew: but he his wonted pride
Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth not substance, gently rais'd
Their fainted courage, and dispell'd thir feares.
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 12v)