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 10

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:
But the powerful charm
That keep discor[d]ant nature prone to harm
To judge twixt good and ill husht
The gathering turmoile but the first
Who dared
Husht the impending ruin alarm
Roaring main for the[e] she long will weep
But thy unfading honor neer can sleep
In History[’s] page thy brave companions toil
In [thy inserted] dear Country honor'd tears shall smile
When Hope for thy return [h]as bowd to care
And not a ray remains to check de[s]pair
No Vestige left of thy fated bark prow
No scatter’d Plank of Iron branded Oar
Or the least tiding reach thy native shore
There are further, illegible lines in pencil. Those in ink seems to continue Turner’s reflections on the death of the explorer Hugh Willoughby while trying to find a North-East Passage; see also folios 6 verso, 8 verso and 9 verso (D06732, D06736, D06738).

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

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