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: 114 x 83 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIII 13 a

Catalogue entry

These verses were first transcribed by Rosalind Mallord Turner, whose reading is followed here:
Away then far away no more shall thought
Nor Kind persuasions or enticement ought
Tempt me no more the fatal tube to hold
Or point with false security so bold
With other drafts on folios 14 verso, 15 verso, 16 verso, 17 and 18 of the sketchbook (D07875, D07877, D07879–D07881) they form a longer poem on the perils of a shoot, both to the birds (‘unfortunate victim to my zeal’, folio 18) and to sportsmen (‘The gun too oft its owner wound / As brings the winged quarry to the ground’, 14 verso). While the sense is clear, the order in which the verses are to be read, or indeed if some are alternative versions of the same passage, is not, and although Wilton and Mallord Turner published them together in a sequence running from here through to folio 18, in this catalogue they are cited in the entries for the individual folios.
Presumably, this prospective poem is associated with the drawings of guns and gun-dogs towards the back of the sketchbook. Turner seems to be writing as an inexperienced and reluctant shot who has witnessed or even caused an accident. See Introduction to the sketchbook for the suggestion that Turner visited Farnley Hall in Yorkshire before his Cumbrian tour in 1809. If so, the ‘Kind persuasions or enticement’ would be those of his host, Walter Fawkes, who was to lose his youngest brother in a shooting accident in 1816 while Turner was staying at Farnley.

David Blayney Brown
July 2009

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