Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscriptions by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 163 × 92 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XCVI 73 a

Catalogue entry

See note to folio 68 of the sketchbook (D06053) for background to these verses. Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading published in the 1990 Tate catalogue is adopted here, with significant variations noted in square brackets:
While spent in a golden torrent held
Scarce dare to urge to
but trace sure works its weedy way
Looks round and screams amen
Who holds the rank of Poet
Nor those who aspiring ambition fires
And love insatiate of the bay inspires
but nurturing rank demand and looks
The judgement praise as some giver
There was the time when rem[embrance]
When those who soar above soft cond[ition]
Who careless of the raptured eye thy
rousd by thy
about I listen and ... [?remember]
Myne was the time when ...
When those who sought to say
Poet who bloom and they disdained
To court in courts amongst the social trains
To make even Harley seek the courts
For Parnell poor to welcome to his dome
[Now only the pointed] fingers point
The pointing finger now
And though it now, now I want to digress
To know or regard at poets fane
Even – he who left fair Binfield pleasant heath
While much of the poetry drafted in this sketchbook is concerned with Alexander Pope and his demolished villa at Twickenham, here Turner alludes to two of the poet’s literary friends, Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford, statesman and book collector and Thomas Parnell, archdeacon of Clogher, both fellow members of the Scriblerus Club. Pope addressed works to Harley and published most of Parnell’s posthumously in 1721. For Binfield, Pope’s boyhood home, see folio 70 verso of the sketchbook (D06056).

David Blayney Brown
October 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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