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)
Illumine, what is low raise & support;
That to the highth of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to Men.
Say first, for heav'n hides nothing from thy view
Nor the deep tract of hell, say first what cause
Mov'd our grand parents in that happie state,
Favour'd of heav'n so highly, to fall off
From thir Creator, & transgresse his will
For one restraint, Lords of the world besides?
Who first seduc'd them to that fowle revolt?
Th' infernal Serpent; hee it was, whose guile
Stirrd up with envy & revenge, deceav'd
The Mother of Mankind; what time his pride
Had cast him out from heav'n; with all his host
Of rebell Angells, by whose aid aspiring
To set himselfe in glory above his peeres,
Hee trusted to have equalld the most High,
If he oppos'd; and with ambitious aime
Against the throne & Monarchy of God,
Raisd impious warr in heav'n & battell proud
With vaine attempt. Him the Almighty power
Hurld headlong flameing from th' ethereal skie
With hideous ruine & combustion downe
To bottomles perdition, there to dwell
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 2v)