Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscription by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Ink and graphite on paper
Support: 115 × 76 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CII 9 a

Catalogue entry

For the longer draft poems to which Turner’s verses belong, see Introduction to the sketchbook and note to folio 1 verso (D06722). Finberg did not transcribe the verses on this leaf and the reading given here was first made by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
Lowring as the thunder mighty cloud
At Winters Eve the awe power’s croud
On congregated clouds with rage comprest
Accursed extending their spacious breast
With rage ... contentious ether load
Presagefull of a storm in awful silence bowd [?showd)
Roll oer the world[’s] far shining breast
In awful silence but a treacherous rest
For as
Lowring on [?anguish] sat the ariel band
As countless as the grains of oceans sand
Medi[t]ating revenge till like the lightning flash
Signaling wrath their powers together clash
Confused and various all contentious rush
Reprisal seeking by the world to crush
Chaotic strife eleme[n]trary uproar wide
Confusion heaped upon Confusion’s tide
must have insued but the Geni husht
The gathering turmoil, behold the first
Who for his country dared to roll
His all upon unfurling the ar[c]tic goal
must ne’r return
These lines are written in pencil and overwritten in ink. They seems to be a further version of Turner’s reflections on the death of the explorer Hugh Willoughby while trying to find a North-East Passage; see also folios 6 verso and 8 verso (D06732, D06736).

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

Read full Catalogue entry

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