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: 180 × 107 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CI 85 a

Catalogue entry

From this leaf on to the inside back cover of the sketchbook, Turner has jotted passages for a longer poem lamenting the demolition in 1807 of the poet Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham; for the demolition, see Introductions to this sketchbook and to the River sketchbook (Tate D05961–D06071; D40650–D40654; Turner Bequest XCVI) which contains similar verses. All these contributed to the more developed poem on the same theme in Turner’s Verse Book (private collection).1 Not transcribed by Finberg, who found them illegible, these drafts were in large part deciphered by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate catalogue; her readings are retained here. The text on this leaf reads:
Then B shall ty with yew her hair
My lamb I mark with hemlock sheer
Twickenham or fill the milking pail
and Colin Clout hang up the useless flail
In sad content and sad T[hames] dos flow
And on its bosom bears the bargemen woes
I’ll tell them that
Where he guides the floating wood
and mocks the place w[h]ere Pope Hou[se] stood
The lengthy shadow fall as goes
the weary
Typically, Turner alludes to pastoral mythology and literary traditions which, through Pope and James Thomson especially, had become associated with Thames scenery. Here, Colin Clout is the courting shepherd of Edmund Spenser’s Shephearde’s Calendar (1579). ‘B’ is presumably the maiden who appears variously in Turner’s poetry as ‘Bloz’ or ‘Bloss’; see also folios 86 verso and inside back cover (D06711, D06618).

David Blayney Brown
December 2006

Published by Wilton and Mallord Turner, pp.150–3

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop