J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry 1811

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 154 Verso:
Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry 1811
Turner Bequest CXXIII 151a
Inscribed by Turner in pencil and ink (see main catalogue entry) on white wove printing paper, 75 x 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The whole page is taken up with the following lines of verse:
For Heaven ah nought beyond
The raging water our continuous bond
Engulph again its [...] raging tries
To force it passage back to air and skies
Precipitious and horrid rock on rock
Bare on their bosoms each impetous shock
Aloft the covring spray imperous hurld
Display the sutborn [i.e. ‘stubborn’] prowess of this rocky world
The [?‘babblin’ or ‘battlin’] water recoiling in vengfull power
To every inlets deep [?insidious] roar
Sounds thro each rocky cavern tempest wrought1
Interspersed with drawings and the printed pages of Coltman’s British Itinerary, sixty-nine pages of this sketchbook are given over wholly or partly to these verses which Turner intended as a commentary for publication with the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England which he sketched on the 1811 West Country tour (see the introduction to the sketchbook). The first lines are on folio 18 verso (D08396), and the last on folio 207 verso (D08736; CXXIII 204a).
The previous verses, on folio 152 verso (D40904; Turner Bequest 149a), are part of a long sequence concerning the rugged Cornish coast. Here the violent interaction of waves and rocks is evoked; Wilton and Turner suggest ‘imper[v]ious’ for ‘imperous’ in line seven, although Turner may have intended ‘imperious’, while in line nine the ‘bb’ of ‘babblin’ appears to have been overwritten with ‘tt’. The passage continues immediately opposite for another few lines on folio 155 recto (D08652; CXXIII 152).
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.174 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
Technical notes:
The first four lines are in pencil, with the rest in ink.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Inscription by Turner: Draft of Poetry 1811 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-inscription-by-turner-draft-of-poetry-r1137129, accessed 06 June 2020.