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)
Then strait commands that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear'd
His mighty standard; that proud honour claim'd
Azazel as his right, a Cherube tall:
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd
Th' imperial ensign, which full high advanc't
Shon like a Meteor streaming to the wind
With gemms & golden lustre rich emblaz'd,
Seraphic arms and trophies: all the while
Sonorous mettle blowing Martiall sounds.
At which the universall host upsent
A shout that tore hells concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air
With orient colours waving: with them rose
A forrest huge of speares: and thronging helms
Appear'd, and serried shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfet Phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders; such as rais'd
To highth of noblest temper Hero's old
Arming to battell, and in stead of rage
Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmov'd
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 13r)