J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Verses (Inscriptions by Turner) c.1807-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 85 Verso:
Verses (Inscriptions by Turner) circa 1807–8
Turner Bequest CI 85a
Inscribed by Turner in pencil (see main catalogue entry) on white wove paper, 180 x 107 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
From this leaf on to the inside back cover of the sketchbook, Turner has jotted passages for a longer poem lamenting the demolition in 1807 of the poet Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham; for the demolition, see Introductions to this sketchbook and to the River sketchbook (Tate D05961–D06071; D40650–D40654; Turner Bequest XCVI) which contains similar verses. All these contributed to the more developed poem on the same theme in Turner’s Verse Book (private collection).1 Not transcribed by Finberg, who found them illegible, these drafts were in large part deciphered by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate catalogue; her readings are retained here. The text on this leaf reads:
Then B shall ty with yew her hair
My lamb I mark with hemlock sheer
Twickenham or fill the milking pail
and Colin Clout hang up the useless flail
In sad content and sad T[hames] dos flow
And on its bosom bears the bargemen woes
I’ll tell them that
Where he guides the floating wood
and mocks the place w[h]ere Pope Hou[se] stood
The lengthy shadow fall as goes
the weary
Typically, Turner alludes to pastoral mythology and literary traditions which, through Pope and James Thomson especially, had become associated with Thames scenery. Here, Colin Clout is the courting shepherd of Edmund Spenser’s Shephearde’s Calendar (1579). ‘B’ is presumably the maiden who appears variously in Turner’s poetry as ‘Bloz’ or ‘Bloss’; see also folios 86 verso and inside back cover (D06711, D06618).

David Blayney Brown
December 2006

Published by Wilton and Mallord Turner, pp.150–3

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Verses (Inscriptions by Turner) c.1807–8 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-verses-inscriptions-by-turner-r1130804, accessed 23 May 2018.