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 knowledge past or present, could have fear'd,
How such united force of Gods, how such
As stood like these could ever know repulse?
For who can yet beleive, though after losse,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied heav'n, shall faile to reascend
Selfe-rais'd, and repossesse thir native seate
For me, be witnesse all the host of heav'n,
If counsells different, or danger shunn'd
By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reignes
Monarch in heav'n, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent or custome; and his regal state
Put forth at full, but still his strength conceal'd,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Hence forth his might we know, and know our own
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New warr, provok'd; our better part remaines
To worke in close designe, by fraud or guile
What force effected not: that he no lesse
At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
Space may produce new worlds; where of so rife
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 15r)