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
D08468
Turner Bequest CXXIII 54 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Southward of this indentured strand
The ruins of Corfe [‘ruind’ inserted above] turrets stand
Between two lofty downs whose shelving side
The lesser mountain for his towers supplyed
Caused by two slender streams which here unite
But early times give [blank] of their might
The arched causeway . . [blank] towring keep
And [‘yet’ inserted above] deep foss scarce fed the strggling sheep
While overhanging walls and gateways nod
Proclaim the the [sic] power of force and times keen rod
Even Earth inmost [?caverns] break to day [‘own his sway’ inserted above]
and prove the force of time in Studland bay1
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).
This passage deals with Corfe Castle, the ruin at the centre of the village of the same name in the Isle of Purbeck in south-east Dorset, the subject of a Southern Coast design from a drawing in the Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08826; Turner Bequest CXXIV 17). See the catalogue entry for the latter for further details and other views; the castle appears in the distance in two views of Poole Harbour in the present book, on folios 14 recto and 16 recto (D08387, D08391). The ‘slender streams’ meet north of the castle mound to form the Corfe River.
The previous passage, on folio 53 verso (D08464; CXXIII 52a), concerns Poole, to the north-east, and the first line here leads on from there to Corfe; the last two lines, mentioning Studland, on the coast to the east, open a new stanza which continues on folio 58 verso (D08474; CXXIII 56a).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
See transcriptions (followed here with slight variations) in Lindsay 1966, p.112, line seven onwards as part of ‘Corfe Castle and Scudland [sic] Bay (where the Halswell captained by Wordsworth’s brother was wrecked’, section (i) of poem no.50, ‘On the Western Itinerary 1811’, and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.171; previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.21 and 1897, p.209; lines seven to ten transcribed with slight variations in Shanes 1981, p.44, and Shanes 1990, p.45.

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