Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry

1811

Not on display

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08409
Turner Bequest CXXIII 25 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
From thy famed banks I’ll may <...> way
And with regret must leave and have to stray
Traverse the gloomy heath of Hounslow wild [...]
Render more dreary by Remebr[?ance]’ sigh
That by the sounding [?nettles] nowhere tell
The dire frought grains may natures rebel
And wreak full mischief stand around
Framents [i.e. ‘Fragments’] blacken
And air [...] horribly resounds
The swains around who beast [i.e. ‘breast’] the silver Thame
[?Sequesters]1
Interspersed with drawings and the printed pages of Coltman’s British Itinerary, sixty-nine pages of this sketchbook are given over wholly or partly to these verses which Turner intended as a commentary for publication with the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England which he sketched on the 1811 West Country tour (see the introduction to the sketchbook). The first lines are on folio 18 verso (D08396), and the last on folio 207 verso (D08736; CXXIII 204a).
The opening phase of the poem concerned the Thames as a source of poetic inspiration to Turner, ending on folio 23 verso (D08405). Here Turner temporarily leaves its banks, heading south-west across Hounslow Heath, then notorious for highwaymen but since largely built over, before regaining the river at Runnymede, addressed in the next passage, on folio 26 recto opposite (D08410).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.170 (transcription, followed here with slight variations); previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, pp.17–18 and 1897, p.206.

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