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 86 a

Catalogue entry

See Introduction and note to folio 85 verso of the sketchbook (D06709) for the background and subject of these verses, the demolition of Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham. Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading published in the 1990 Tate catalogue is adopted here:
As you my son
I’ll sell our flock a[t] next Lammas fair
My tender fleece I will carefull sheer
My Bloss [?maiden] will give her golden hair
That with the harvest sheaf does full compare
Poor Colin Clout a wield the saw flail
or all next winter oft will not avail
To keep on T[wickenhams] banks Alexis name
his to record his fame
This low laid Elm that now may behold
once flourished high in verdant vigour bold
around its trunk the swains the song resound
Regaling [?make] a country dance around
Spread round the mead the band
From scorching sunbeam lowing heifer
but powerfull wealth its top most [lopt inserted]
Indignant nature felt the wound and stopt
The vernal moisture now useless lies
So will you pray or my tongue belies
Lost is Alexis to me
The Swains of Thames sigh[ing] sing his name
For Colin Clout, a shepherd borrowed from Edmund Spenser, see folio 85, for Alexis, here meaning Pope himself, folio 86 (D06710), and for Bloss folio 85 verso and inside back cover (D06709, D06618).

David Blayney Brown
October 2006

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