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 137 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
The [?shaggy] rocks with what this shore is girth,
In overwhelm <...> betray thir mirth
For the topmost hills the clouds descends
and Earth and Ocean in one [?twine] ends
The vessels which so plain plow this Coast
Shirk the Haze even as ever the lost
So must the land to them <...> they hold
Thir course in confidence by needle told
How awfull must the land appear to them
Scarce with [?keen powr] lost and then again
In doubt bewixt [i.e. ‘betwixt’] optical and magnatic point1
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 verses are on folio 138 verso (D08624; CXXIII 135a), leading on from lines about St Michael’s Mount, and the rocky coast being navigated here is that of West Cornwall. The next lines, on folio 143 verso (D08633; CXXIII 140a), describe a shipwreck.
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.174 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
Technical notes:
There is a heavy ink blot after the last line, which shows through to the recto (D08626) and affects both sides of the next leaf, folio 141 (D08628, D08629; CXXIII 138, 138a).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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