Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 115 × 88 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVIII 28

Catalogue entry

Almost the whole page is taken up with lines of poetry:
The sweets of the Bee and the bloom of the Rose
Did fair Josephine in her May day disclose
Contented had lived as the day rolld its round
But to Wills Cottage [‘by’ inserted above] love at last found
She craved for admittance [?despairingly] poor
For pitys Kind sake pray open the door
Alas simple maid she believes his sad call
When love drops a tear can that tear ever fall
The blossom of hope even [‘thou’ inserted above] by Cupid carest [i.e. ‘caressed’]
Looked languid and dropt upon Cupid possest
Then as false as the breeze as false as unkind
He left her he left her & sorrow behind1
The poem is complete in itself. Jack Lindsay has suggested Turner wrote it ‘to some tune so that he could sing [it] at the right sort of gathering ... in a drawing-room’ (unlike his poem ‘Dear Molly’ – see folios folios 29 recto (D07400) and 29 verso (D07401), and folios 31 recto (D07403) and 31 verso (D07404)).2 For a concordance of further extensive passages of poetry in this book, see the sketchbook Introduction.
See Lindsay 1966, p.106 no.48, as ‘Josephine’ (transcription, with significant variations in the reading of some words, though not in the general sense); Wilkinson 1974, p.34, quoting first verse, following Lindsay; Lindsay 1985, p.131 (only first verse quoted, following 1966 reading); and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.164 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
Lindsay 1975, p.15; and 1985, p.131.
Technical notes:
It is noticeable that the leaf has been neatly rebound, attached to a new stub.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

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