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)
In bigness [ ] giant-sons
Now lesse then smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless [ ] that pigmean race
Beyond the Indian mount, or Faerie Elves
Whose midnight revells, by a forrest side
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams hee sees, while over head the Moon
Sits arbitress, and neerer to the earth
Wheels her pale course: they on thir mirth & d[ ]
Intent, with jocond music charme his eare;
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms
Reduc'd thir shapes immense, and were at l[ ]
Though without number still amidst the hall
Of that infernall court. But farr within
And in thir own dimensions like themselves
The great Seraphic Lords and Cherubim
In close recesse and secret conclave sat
A thousand Demy-gods on golden seat's
Frequent and full. After short silence then
And summons read, the great consult began.
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 18r)