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 a

Catalogue entry

For the longer draft poems to which Turner’s verses belong, see Introduction to the sketchbook. 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:
O Seasons fair of guard the shrine
Think of your honor T[homson] shrine
Then watery may its sweet entwine
While Phoebus o’er our valies shine
High the Coral Shell then fill
With-distant Thames stream rill
The summer breeze his lyre yet fills
With memory sweet and h[a]unt[ing] thrills
Of him that made the Season shine
With watery may, the bays intwine
While Phoebus over our valies shine
This passage is written in ink and is crossed out; a further line ‘he made the charm of Seasons shine’ is added below in pencil. With further alternative versions on folios 11 and 12 (D06741, D06743) this is a draft for the opening of a poem entitled ‘Invocation to the Seasons | upon the Demolition of Pope’s House’ set out in more developed form on folio 11 verso (D06742). As well as the destruction of Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham in 1807 this refers to James Thomson, poet of the Seasons (1730), and together with various other fragments and drafts must be connected with the long lyric poem that Turner was planning to dedicate to Thomson and his masterpiece. The imagery of the poet’s shrine and of breezes playing on his lyre also connect with Turner’s picture Thomson’s Aeolian Harp shown at his Gallery in 1809 with accompanying verses (Manchester Art Gallery).1 See Introduction to the sketchbook for background and related work.

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.64–5 no.86 (pl.96); for the verses, Wilton and Mallord Turner 1990, p.134.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop