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 dauntless valour, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge: cruell his eye, but cast
Signes of remorse and passion to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
(Farr other once beheld in bliss) condemn'd
For ever now to have thir lot in pain,
[Mi]llions of spirits for his fault amerc'd
Of Heav'n, and from eternal splendors flung
For his revolt, yet faithfull how they stood,
Thir glory witherd. As when Heavens fire
Hath scath'd the forrest oakes, or mountain pines,
With singed top thir stately growth though bare
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepar'd
To speak; where-at their doubl'd ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and halfe inclose him round
With all his peeres: attention held them mute.
Thrice he assay'd, and thrice in spite of scorn,
Tears such as angels weepe, burst forth: at last
Words interwove with sighs found out thir way.
O Myriads of immortall spirits, o powers
Matchless, but with th' Almighty, and that strife
Was not inglorious, though th' event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change
Hatefull to utter: but what powre of mind
Foreseeing or presaging, from the Depth
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 14v)