Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry; with Continuation of a House among Trees on a River

c.1809

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 x 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07401
Turner Bequest CVIII 29 a

Catalogue entry

The left-hand half of the page is taken up with lines of poetry, written with the book turned vertically:
Love between them take a rest
[‘And’ inserted above] Revels in thy downy nest
The rival in his lair I’ll Kill
So prithee dear Molly lye still
By the touch of lip or rove of my hand
By the critical moment no Maid can withstand
Then a bird in a bush is worth two in the hand
O Molly dear Molly. [blank] I will1
The poem begins (‘Be still my dear Molly be still’) on the recto of this leaf (D07400), and the same verses appear, with variations, on both sides of folio 31 (D07403, D07404). For a concordance of the extensive passages of poetry in this book, see the sketchbook Introduction.
It is unclear whether Turner first wrote the verse, later using the rest of the page for a group of trees extending from the main (horizontal) composition on folio 30 recto opposite (D07402), or made use of the blank space beyond the drawing for the verse.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
See Lindsay 1966, p.162 (partial transcription); and Wilton and Turner 1990, p.165 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).

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