Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 80 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Equally enervates the solider [sic] and his Steel
Lo on yon bank beneath the Hedge they lie
And watch [‘with’ inserted above] cat-like each female by
One sidelong glance or hesitating step
Admits of not recall who once oer leap
The deep plowd sand are pled [i.e. ‘piled’] up by the main
But time denies the [?cure] of love or gain
Deep sinks the curse of <...> lucre at the heart
And virtue staind o’er powers the greater part
Wan Melancholy sit the once full blooming maid
Misanthrope stalks the soul in silent shade
On the bold promontory thrown at length he lies
And sea mews shrieking are her obsequies1
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 first passage of the three-page narrative concluded here, telling of a country girl and her sad fate, is on folio 78 verso (D08513), and the second on folio 80 verso (D08516; CXXIII 77a). See the entry for folio 78 verso for further discussion. The penultimate word of the penultimate line is probably intended as ‘she’ (as in Thornbury and Lindsay’s readings), although an ‘s’ is not now evident.
The next lines, on folio 90 verso (D08534; CXXIII 87a), return to the main topographical theme of the poem, at Maiden Castle near Dorchester.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

See transcriptions (followed here with slight variations) in Lindsay 1966, p.115, as part of ‘The Lost Girl’, section (l) of poem no.50, ‘On the Western Itinerary 1811’, Gage 1987, p.[196] and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.172; previously transcribed with variations in Thornbury 1862, II, p.24 and 1897, pp.212–13.

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