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.
John Milton (1608–1674)
Paradise Lost. A Poem in Ten Books. The Author / John Milton.
London: Printed by S. Simmons, and to be sold by S. Thomson
at the Bishops-Head in Duck-lane, H. Mortlack at the White
Hart in Westminster Hall, M. Walker under St. Dunstans
Church in Fleet-street, and R. Boulter at the Turks-Head in
Bishopsgate street, 1668.
PML 48475. Gift of Dr. Karl Vogel, 1957.
This 1668 reissue was the first to include Milton's synopsis
of each book ("the Arguments" of Books 1–10), his defense of
"the Verse," and a list of errata, adding sixteen pages of preliminary
matter to the book. Simmons's note to the reader states
that he had procured this explanation from Milton because
readers of the poem had "stumbled" on first encountering it,
asking "why the Poem Rimes not." Milton's strident defense of
blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) is printed in large
type that fills two pages. His chosen meter, although no longer
fashionable by 1667, was the dominant mode of Shakespeare's
plays and is the closest to the natural rhythms of English
speech. Samuel Johnson later commented sarcastically that,
"finding blank verse easier than rhyme, [Milton] was desirous
of persuading himself that it is better."