Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 70 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following verse:
Tempt us to declare to all who view
The name we hold most lovely and hope true
But thought created by the ardent mind
Prove oft as changling as the changing wind
A great [?for ...] renders all our care
A [?short] to others who are thought more fair
Absence the dreadfull monster to delight
Delusion like the silent midnight blight
Fraility that ever courted oft beloved
And modesty though slighted most approved
All give and urge the intolerable smart1
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 continues the theme, begun on folio 70 verso (D08497; CXXIII 67a), of the joys and disappointments of love. The next few lines, on folio 78 verso (D08513; CXXIII 75a), conclude these ruminations before Turner embarks on a verse drama of female innocence betrayed by male lust.
See transcriptions (followed here with slight variations) in Lindsay 1966, p.114, as part of ‘Love’, section (k) of poem no.50, ‘On the Western Itinerary 1811’ (omitting lines five and six), and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.172; previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.23–4 and 1897, p.212.
Technical notes:
The lines are written in ink over a draft in pencil, with the third couplet (‘A great ... fair’) left in pencil only. In other places the sprawling pencil draft is exposed, showing that Turner followed the wording closely in overwriting it more neatly in ink.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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