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 31 a

Catalogue entry

Half the page is taken up with lines of poetry:
For love between them takes his rest
I am jealous of his downy nest
My rival in his lair I’ll kill
So I prithee dear Molly lye still
By the touch of thy lips sure loves band
By the critical moment no maid can with [‘- stand’ inserted above]
Then a bird in a bush is worth two in the [‘Hand’ inserted above]
O Molly dear Molly. – I will1
The poem begins (‘Be still my dear Molly dear Molly be still’) on the recto of this leaf (D07403), and the same verses appear, with variations, on both sides of folio 29 (D07400, D07401). For a concordance of the extensive passages of poetry in this book, see the sketchbook Introduction.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

See Lindsay, Sunset Ship, 1966, pp.104–5 no.47, as ‘Be Still My Dear Molly’ (transcription, with last verse informed by the version on folio 29 verso); Lindsay 1975, p.16 (transcription of last verse only, following 1966 reading); Lindsay 1985, p.27 (transcription following 1966 reading); and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.165 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).

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