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
D08444
Turner Bequest CXXIII 43 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Close to the [?‘hreshold’, i.e. ‘threshold’] way worn stone
Her coifs hang bleaching on the [?spiky] thorn
Her only pride beside the thread & reel
For time had steeld her bosom even to feel
Tho once in May of life that half losed [i.e. ‘closed’] Eye
Had [‘taught’ inserted above] that the proudest of her time to sigh
But mutual impulse only triumph gaind
And homely love to higher thoughts maintaind
But here again the sad concomitant of life1
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 previous passage is on folio 38 verso (D08434), introducing the character discussed here as a village school-marm. A coif is a thin, close-fitting skullcap; the woman’s neat dress is the last vestige of her self-esteem, having once had a husband, described in the next passage, on folio 45 verso (D08448). Wilton and Turner read the thorn in line two as ‘spiky’, while Lindsay gives ‘slanting’.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
See transcriptions (followed here with slight variations) in Lindsay 1966, pp.110–11, as part of ‘The Wife of the Captured Fisherman’, section (g) of poem no.50, ‘On the Western Itinerary 1811’, Gage 1987, p.217 (last line only) and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.171; previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.20 and 1897, p.208.

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