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: 110 x 88 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXI 93 a

Catalogue entry

Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading of Turner’s inscription for the 1990 Tate exhibition is largely followed here:
[In pencil]
Rich in Imagination[s] flower[y] meeds fair minds
More willing and ordinary word than this
Sense soon lost within the wide expanse
Returning eer it thinks of failure [and deleted]
Encounters difficulties even to loss of life
Strong with the hope that such mothers cheerd
He panted to the course in hot pursuit
Led by thy power coy there strew in heaps
The jealous natures when natures truth
Thought[t] him a madman or a fool
[In ink]
Deservedly sent to perish not explore
Which could but then seem but inexplicable
To search for what to them but fabled nonsense
And such it proved to him, what to him
His hard hard bed and burning suns
Pouring intense heat upon his head
Fevering intense heat upon his head
Fevering his thoughts to madness and despair
And disappointment keenest made by mockery
Coy fair then left him on the Splas[h]y brook
Where Nilus oozes like another stream
Driven in a corner what could he but admit
No drooping Ocean from the clouds direct
These passages continue the poem on fancy and imagination begun on folio 95 of the sketchbook (D07745). The lines on the Nile seem to follow those on the river and its explorer James Bruce on folio 94 (D07744) and to be continued on the recto (D07742).

David Blayney Brown
May 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

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