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)
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluc'd from the lake a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy Ore,
Severing each kind, and scum'd the bullion drosse:
[ ]rd as soon had form'd within the ground
[ ]arious mould, and from the boyleing cells
[ ] strange conveiance fill'd each hollow nook:
As in an Organ from one blast of wind
To many a row of pipes the sound-bord breaths.
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet:
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlayd
With golden Architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or freeze with bossy sculptures grav'n,
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babilon,
Nor great Alcairo such magnificence
Equall'd in all thir glories, to inshrine
Belus or Serapis thir Gods, or seate
Thir kings, when Egipt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile
Stood fixt her stately highth, and strait the dores
Op'ning thir brasen folds discover wide
Within, her ample spaces, o're the smooth
And level pavement: from the arched roof
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 16v)