Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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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 29

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with lines of poetry:
Be still my dear Molly be still
Why urge a soft sigh to a will
That is eager that wish to fulfill
So I prithee Dear Molly be still
By thy lips giving motion I wheen
To the centres where love lies between
A passport to bliss is thy will
So I prithee dear Molly be still
By those Hairs which have hid from my sight
Thy sweet eyes when half closed with delight
Then with kisses thy Lips I will fill
Yet I prithee dear Molly be still
By bosom wild throbbing with youth
Their heaving to me speak reproof
<Where love might a kiss imprint> [reinforced by a large ‘X’ to the right]
By the half blushing mark on each hill
Yet I prithee dear Molly be still1
There is offsetting between the first two verses from a heavy ink correction opposite on folio 28 verso (D07399).
The poem concludes on the verso of this leaf (D07401), and the same verses appear, with variations, on both sides of folio 31 (D07403, D07404) – see the entry for folio 31 verso for commentaries. For a concordance of the extensive passages of poetry elsewhere in this book, see the sketchbook Introduction.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

See Wilton and Turner 1990, pp.164–5 (transcription, followed here with slight variations); third verse quoted in Lindsay 1966, p.104, as ‘variants’, and in Lindsay 1985, p.27, as a ‘variant stanza’ from his main transcription of the folio 31 version.

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