Sacred Texts  Legends & Sagas  William Morris 
Buy this Book at

Perseus and Andromeda, by Edward Burne-Jones [1884-5] (Public Domain Image)

The Earthly Paradise


by William Morris


Contents    Start Reading

March-August |  September-November |  December-February

The ceaseless tumbling of the billows grey,
The white upspringing of the spurts of spray
--p. 633

This is the first part of a three part etext of William Morris' epic-length poem, The Earthly Paradise. The work is a sequence of 24 framed episodes (two per 'month') each with its own story, rather than one long narrative with a complicated cast. This invites browsing, as it is easy to drop in and read a complete story in one sitting. The entire poem is written in colloquial modern English with a few archaicisms. Morris draws from European mythology and folklore, particularly Classical mythology and the world of the fairytale.

In fact, the most complicated thing about this poem is its publishing history. There were two, three, and six volume editions, by both English and American publishers, (some of them pirated). However, it appears that the text of the poem is fairly standard across editions. For this first portion, I used an 1868 American printing which has the first six months in one volume. Forthcoming are the final six months in two separate volumes.

Title Page and Front Matter
A Table of Contents
An Apology
Prologue—The Wanderers
To The Reader


Atalanta's Race
The Man Born to be King


The Doom of King Acrisius
The Proud King


The Story of Cupid and Psyche
The Writing on the Image


The Love of Alcestis
The Lady of the Land


The Son of Crœsus
The Watching of the Falcon


Pygmalion and the Image
Ogier the Dane


End Matter