Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscription by Turner)


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Ink and graphite on paper
Support: 115 x 76 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CII 7 a

Catalogue entry

For the longer draft poem to which Turner’s verses belong, see Introduction to the sketchbook and note to folio 1 verso (D06722). Finberg did not transcribe the verses on this leaf and the reading given here was first made by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
Birth or nature steers the doubtful [light inserted]
That round him broke harsh effrontery
That [?watchful Prophecy] has try[d] in vain to tell
The mighty mother conscience catch
Then terror and dismay o[’r]e Southern [ether inserted] burst
Presagefull of thy fate for fatal word
From frozen nostril hast unfurld
Rold the full summons th[r]o the central world
Th[r]o [?Eastward] icebound ribs the sun hurld
The coral cavern of the main resound
In repercussive roar the frost bound ocean sounds
In the dark conclave rush the high compeer
Lo Britains bark too daring hither steers
Did I for this withhold your sway
That sweeps or ... thy billow rise way
Check thy
Allows the Sun to gleam o[e]r G[reenland’s] bay
The passage is written in pencil and some lines are overwritten in ink.

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

Read full Catalogue entry

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