Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscription by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 88 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXI 40

Catalogue entry

The verse written here seems to begin a passage continued on folio 39 verso and concluded on folio 38 verso of the sketchbook (D07653, D07651). A full transcription is given here, based on Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
Oh thou I thou mark only
My longing eye
Bent on earth rapturous delight
Art thou too fled
Say did those souls beneath the roses win
Or hostile heads by midnight gloom
More dreadfull made
Or by the thrusting cliff that echoing
Down the winds laid
Prone in dust and all the conflict done
And only lift a frail monument [stone inserted]
To mark thy once domain
Where pleasure seemed to reign
Gently lifted over the azure main
That humbled at the feet rest
But when even and the dusk
[Continued on folio 39 verso, D07653] Sent forth that power in dread array
Thy loving favours tumble to thy ground
And all mingled combine threw around
Gone near to the once loved roof
I felt the power of loving with reproof
A sigh to be thy inmate by just fate
Him by what we’re [Continued on folio 38 verso, D07651] taught to call
And that power so condemned rest
Whatever it is mistaken for the best
Butlin and Joll associate these lines with Apollo and Python (Tate N00488)1 but this seems unlikely. (For poetry connected with the picture in this sketchbook see Introduction and notes to folio 17, D07617). The tone here is more personal and reflective, tinged with guilt or remorse.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.82 no.115 (pl.119).

David Blayney Brown
May 2011

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