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
D08666
Turner Bequest CXXIII 159 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
Between the dark [?embosomed] forest sheen
Sparkling in [?partial] greeting the stream
Where fall the western lights enbeaming ray
Excluded, there the deep reflections play
Then wide ext[...]d [i.e. ‘extended’] downs of [?‘gos’, i.e. ‘gorse’] and corn
Wild & cultured land and those that never shorn
Lie only tended by the scatterd sheep
Where the neglected ever seems to creep
Struggled with difficulty like a [?serpents] train
In form in writing with [?disease] and pain
Beyond these barren tracts yon level plain
Trough [i.e. ‘Through’] which the Ex [i.e. ‘Exe’] rolls sullen to the main
Begirt with honors of Pomona’s care
his busy crowded clamours Exeter
The <[?Town]>[...] and civic then attest
and Commerce1
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, on folio 159 verso (D08661; CXXIII 156a), describes idyllic countryside, noting in the last line that ‘In verdure richly clad lies [?Poppelford]’. This appears to be Newton Poppelford, on the road between Sidmouth and Exeter in South Devon; Turner sketched at Sidmouth on folios 206 verso and 208 recto (D08734, D08737; CXXIII 203a, 205). There are views of Exeter in the contemporary Corfe to Dartmouth sketchbook (Tate D08842, D08844, D08846, D08848; Turner Bequest CXXIV 30, 31, 32, 33), and along the Exe Estuary towards Exmouth and Dawlish in the present book, including the sketches on folios 66 recto and 67 verso (D08488, D08491; CXXIII 63, 64a). Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit and fruit trees.
The next lines, on folio 164 verso (D08670; CXXIII 161a), concern the Devon town of Totnes.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

1
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.175 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).

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