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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Verses (Inscription by Turner) c.1808

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 3 Verso:
Verses (Inscription by Turner) circa 1808
Turner Bequest CII 3a
Inscribed by Turner in pencil and ink (see main catalogue entry) on white wove paper, 115 x 76 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
For the longer draft poems to which Turner’s verses belong, see Introduction to the sketchbook and note to folio 1 verso (D06722). Finberg did not transcribe the verses on this leaf and the reading given here was first made by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
Thou bids the sailor hoist the pliant sail
That struggling flies beneath the rising gale
To the all pervading ...[?] fail
When the furious North & E Winds prevail
And kindest thoughts to stay him aught avail
In harsher accents all the storm defies
Alike to him the danger and the prize
Th[r]o every Wave the dauntless Sailor plies
He fears the rush of Equinoctial skies
For these undaunted plies the hardstrained Sails
Thro every wave and Equinoctial gale
O Winter the nurse & the bane of life
Thy very name bears oft domestic strife
The spur to Industry the misers fall
So Beastly [grainy deleted] His deep scored wall
bequeaths his wealth even to his eyes & cares denied
For fear denies
even fear forbids a gleam a light to share
a moments Knowledge of his golden care
Suspicion guide where real dangers fail
The fly might hum to him the sounding frail
O lovely Woman [with open mouth then to know deleted]
With sorrow feel alas why man did to bow
Obsequious at thy wealth of Gold displayed
Not of that worth ordain’d by Heaven [or Man inserted] to aid
Tho[u] bidst the Sailor hoist the pliant sail
When the fierce North & Eastern gales prevail
These lines are written in pencil and then overwritten in ink. For another version of the passage see folio 4 (D05727).

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Verses (Inscription by Turner) c.1808 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2006, 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-verses-inscription-by-turner-r1130819, accessed 21 June 2024.