This morning it rained so hard (though it was fair yesterday, and we thereupon in hopes of having some fair weather, which we have wanted these three months) that it wakened Creed, who lay with me last night, and me, and so we up and fell to discourse of the business of his accounts now under dispute, in which I have taken much trouble upon myself and raised a distance between Sir G. Carteret and myself, which troubles me, but I hope we have this morning light on an expedient that will right all, that will answer their queries, and yet save Creed the 500l. which he did propose to make of the exchange abroad of the pieces of eight which he disbursed. Being ready, he and I by water to White Hall, where I left him before we came into the Court, for fear I should be seen by Sir G. Carteret with him, which of late I have been forced to avoid to remove suspicion.
I to St. James’s, and there discoursed a while with Mr. Coventry, between whom and myself there is very good understanding and friendship.
And so to Westminster Hall, and being in the Parliament lobby, I there saw my Lord of Bristoll come to the Commons House to give his answer to their question, about some words he should tell the King that were spoke by Sir Richard Temple, a member of their House. A chair was set at the bar of the House for him, which he used but little, but made an harangue of half an hour bareheaded, the House covered.
His speech being done, he came out and withdrew into a little room till the House had concluded of an answer to his speech; which they staying long upon, I went away. And by and by out comes Sir W. Batten; and he told me that his Lordship had made a long and a comedian-like speech, and delivered with such action as was not becoming his Lordship. He confesses he did tell the King such a thing of Sir Richard Temple, but that upon his honour they were not spoke by Sir Richard, he having taken a liberty of enlarging to the King upon the discourse which had been between Sir Richard and himself lately; and so took upon himself the whole blame, and desired their pardon, it being not to do any wrong to their fellow-member, but out of zeal to the King.
He told them, among many other things, that as to his religion he was a Roman Catholique, but such a one as thought no man to have right to the Crown of England but the Prince that hath it; and such a one as, if the King should desire his counsel as to his own, he would not advise him to another religion than the old true reformed religion of this country, it being the properest of this kingdom as it now stands.
And concluded with a submission to what the House shall do with him, saying, that whatever they shall do, says he, “thanks be to God, this head, this heart, and this sword (pointing to them all), will find me a being in any place in Europe.”
The House hath hereupon voted clearly Sir Richard Temple to be free from the imputation of saying those words; but when Sir William Batten came out, had not concluded what to say to my Lord, it being argued that to own any satisfaction as to my Lord from his speech, would be to lay some fault upon the King for the message he should upon no better accounts send to the impeaching of one of their members.
Walking out, I hear that the House of Lords are offended that my Lord Digby should come to this House and make a speech there without leave first asked of the House of Lords. I hear also of another difficulty now upon him; that my Lord of Sunderland (whom I do not know) was so near to the marriage of his daughter as that the wedding-clothes were made, and portion and every thing agreed on and ready; and the other day he goes away nobody yet knows whither, sending her the next morning a release of his right or claim to her, and advice to his friends not to enquire into the reason of this doing, for he hath enough for it; but that he gives them liberty to say and think what they will of him, so they do not demand the reason of his leaving her, being resolved never to have her, but the reason desires and resolves not to give.
Thence by water with Sir W. Batten to Trinity House, there to dine with him, which we did; and after dinner we fell talking, Sir J. Minnes, Mr. Batten and I; Mr. Batten telling us of a late triall of Sir Charles Sydly the other day, before my Lord Chief Justice Foster and the whole bench, for his debauchery a little while since at Oxford Kate’s, coming in open day into the Balcone and showed his nakedness, acting all the postures of lust and buggery that could be imagined, and abusing of scripture and as it were from thence preaching a mountebank sermon from the pulpit, saying that there he had to sell such a powder as should make all the cunts in town run after him, 1000 people standing underneath to see and hear him.
And that being done he took a glass of wine and washed his prick in it and then drank it off, and then took another and drank the King’s health.
It seems my Lord and the rest of the judges did all of them round give him a most high reproof; my Lord Chief justice saying, that it was for him, and such wicked wretches as he was, that God’s anger and judgments hung over us, calling him sirrah many times. It’s said they have bound him to his good behaviour (there being no law against him for it) in 5000l. It being told that my Lord Buckhurst was there, my Lord asked whether it was that Buckhurst that was lately tried for robbery; and when answered Yes, he asked whether he had so soon forgot his deliverance at that time, and that it would have more become him to have been at his prayers begging God’s forgiveness, than now running into such courses again.
Upon this discourse, Sir J. Mennes and Mr. Batten both say that buggery is now almost grown as common among our gallants as in Italy, and that the very pages of the town begin to complain of their masters for it. But blessed be God, I do not to this day know what is the meaning of this sin, nor which is the agent and which is the patient. Thence home, and my clerks being gone by my leave to see the East India ships that are lately come home, I staid all alone within my office all the afternoon. This day I hear at dinner that Don John of Austria, since his flight out of Portugall, is dead of his wounds: so there is a great man gone, and a great dispute like to be ended for the crown of Spayne, if the King should have died before him. I received this morning a letter from my wife, brought by John Gower to town, wherein I find a sad falling out between my wife and my father and sister and Ashwell upon my writing to my father to advise Pall not to keep Ashwell from her mistress, or making any difference between them. Which Pall telling to Ashwell, and she speaking some words that her mistress heard, caused great difference among them; all which I am sorry from my heart to hear of, and I fear will breed ill blood not to be laid again.
So that I fear my wife and I may have some falling out about it, or at least my father and I, but I shall endeavour to salve up all as well as I can, or send for her out of the country before the time intended, which I would be loth to do.
In the evening by water to my coz. Roger Pepys’ chamber, where he was not come, but I found Dr. John newly come to town, and is well again after his sickness; but, Lord! what a simple man he is as to any public matter of state, and talks so sillily to his brother Dr. Tom. What the matter is I know not, but he has taken (as my father told me a good while since) such displeasure that he hardly would touch his hat to me, and I as little to him.
By and by comes Roger, and he told us the whole passage of my Lord Digby to-day, much as I have said here above; only that he did say that he would draw his sword against the Pope himself, if he should offer any thing against his Majesty, and the good of these nations; and that he never was the man that did either look for a Cardinal’s cap for himself, or any body else, meaning Abbot Montagu; and the House upon the whole did vote Sir Richard Temple innocent; and that my Lord Digby hath cleared the honour of his Majesty, and Sir Richard Temple’s, and given perfect satisfaction of his own respects to the House.
Thence to my brother’s, and being vexed with his not minding my father’s business here in getting his Landscape done, I went away in an anger, and walked home, and so up to my lute and then to bed.

this morning light
will right all

will make half a head
into a little room

and a whole
member into rope

will free a peach to debauch
a glass of wine

and give me a now
to be a patient of

this light like blood
in a simple lily


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 1 July 1663.

“…up above the light
like a lost swallow” ~ “Beyond Belief,” D. Bonta

Absolution: that faint smudge
where the compass points north.

Buy your tickets here,
call the hawkers. Not cheap for

chance passengers, considering
the nature of accommodations.

Don’t you always get the joke
when the joke’s on you?

Economics simply means there are
more people than there are seats.

First class these days gets you a pack
of peanuts, maybe. Frigate birds

get more lift just from cloud-hopping.
Among the unwaterproofed horde,

how many have papers, how many
are undocumented? And yet they log

incomparable mileage. Their other skill:
purloining what’s heaved over as

jetsam. In other words,
working it so other birds throw up

krill and squid, flying fish,
plankton… We should be so

lucky: to be continuously aloft,
with only the briefest inter-

missions for food. After so long
a journey, who even recalls what

need or nightmare first
catapulted us here?

O to soar and soar, to enter through
warm white hems of cloud, have air fill

pneumatic bones, lighter than girdles
fused to the shoulder joint.

Quicksilver gloss on the belly;
everything else dark, mottled,

rustic as cyanotype. What bright gashes
of color! We’re prized for these, made

spectacular as bodies in a fair.
What do you have there in that

throat pouch shaded deep scarlet? Do you
have for me letters, loves, poems?

Uncountable miles have come between
me and the future, me and the past…

Veering ever onward, I try to shut
my ears to the tumult et cetera.

Will you glide a little way with me, ransack the dips
for freshwater? If these jaunts were through

xysts lined with trees— something
fragrant like linden— perhaps

yaw velocity might compute differently. Perhaps
the wandering body that’s forgotten what it’s like at

zero motion might at last locate a distant ring
of islands, a cliff of chalky white in the final mile.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Beyond Belief.

“…My happiness dissolves and yet endures:
I wither and I flourish, both at once.”
~ Louise Labé, “Sonnet VIII,” trans. Jean Morris

Where is there a word
to mean both

and not merely one,
which hides a gleam

that flashes on
when the life sap thins

and hesitates? Where
is the sound to melt

whatever might need
disarmament; a pocket

in the air for the aftermath
of slicing onions, crushing

garlic? There should be
a word for both act

and aftermath: the tear
and the trail it leaves,

the kiss and its evaporation
from the still warm mouth.

The plate and its shadowy signature
pressed into the tablecloth.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Louise Labe....

Up betimes yesterday and to-day, the sun rising very bright and glorious; and yet yesterday, as it hath been these two months and more, was a foul day the most part of the day.
By and by by water to White Hall, and there to my Lord’s lodgings by appointment, whither Mr. Creed comes to me, having been at Chelsey this morning to fetch my Lord to St. James’s. So he and I to the Park, where we understand that the King and Duke are gone out betimes this morning on board the East India ships lately come in, and so our meeting appointed is lost. But he and I walked at the further end of the Park, not to be observed, whither by and by comes my Lord Sandwich, and he and we walked two hours and more in the Park and then in White Hall Gallery, and lastly in White Hall garden, discoursing of Mr. Creed’s accounts, and how to answer the Treasurer’s objections. I find that the business is 500l. deep, the advantage of Creed, and why my Lord and I should be concerned to promote his profit with so much dishonour and trouble to us I know not, but however we shall do what we can, though he deserves it not, for there is nothing even to his own advantage that can be got out of him, but by mere force. So full of policy he is in the smallest matters, that I perceive him to be made up of nothing but design. I left him here, being in my mind vexed at the trouble that this business gets me, and the distance that it makes between Sir G. Carteret and myself, which I ought to avoyd. Thence by water home and to dinner, and afterwards to the office, and there sat till evening, and then I by water to Deptford to see Sir W. Pen, who lies ill at Captain Rooth’s, but in a way to be well again this weather, this day being the only fair day we have had these two or three months. Among other discourse I did tell him plainly some of my thoughts concerning Sir W. Batten. and the office in general, upon design for him to understand that I do mind things and will not balk to take notice of them, that when he comes to be well again he may know how to look upon me.
Thence homeward walked, and in my way met Creed coming to meet me, and then turned back and walk a while, and so to boat and home by water, I being not very forward to talk of his business, and he by design the same, to see how I would speak of it, but I did not, but in general terms, and so after supper with general discourse to bed and sleep.
Thus, by God’s blessing, ends this book of two years; I being in all points in good health and a good way to thrive and do well. Some money I do and can lay up, but not much, being worth now above 700l., besides goods of all sorts. My wife in the country with Ashwell, her woman, with my father; myself at home with W. Hewer and my cooke-maid Hannah, my boy Wayneman being lately run away from me.
In my office, my repute and understanding good, especially with the Duke and Mr. Coventry; only the rest of the officers do rather envy than love me, I standing in most of their lights, specially Sir W. Batten, whose cheats I do daily oppose to his great trouble, though he appears mighty kind and willing to keep friendship with me, while Sir J. Minnes, like a dotard, is led by the nose by him. My wife and I, by my late jealousy, for which I am truly to be blamed, have not the kindness between us which we used and ought to have, and I fear will be lost hereafter if I do not take course to oblige her and yet preserve my authority. Publique matters are in an ill condition; Parliament sitting and raising four subsidys for the King, which is but a little, considering his wants; and yet that parted withal with great hardness. They being offended to see so much money go, and no debts of the publique’s paid, but all swallowed by a luxurious Court: which the King it is believed and hoped will retrench in a little time, when he comes to see the utmost of the revenue which shall be settled on him: he expecting to have his 1,200,000l. made good to him, which is not yet done by above 150,000l., as he himself reports to the House.
My differences with my uncle Thomas at a good quiett, blessed be God! and other matters.
The town full of the great overthrow lately given to the Spaniards by the Portugalls, they being advanced into the very middle of Portugall.
The weather wet for two or three months together beyond belief, almost not one fair day coming between till this day, which has been a very pleasant [day] and the first pleasant [day] this summer.
The charge of the Navy intended to be limited to 200,000l. per annum, the ordinary charge of it, and that to be settled upon the Customs.
The King yet greatly taken up with Madam Castlemaine and Mrs. Stewart, which God of Heaven put an end to!
Myself very studious to learn what I can of all things necessary for my place as an officer of the Navy, reading lately what concerns measuring of timber and knowledge of the tides.
I have of late spent much time with Creed, being led to it by his business of his accounts, but I find him a fellow of those designs and tricks, that there is no degree of true friendship to be made with him, and therefore I must cast him off, though he be a very understanding man, and one that much may be learned of as to cunning and judging of other men. Besides, too, I do perceive more and more that my time of pleasure and idleness of any sort must be flung off to attend to getting of some money and the keeping of my family in order, which I fear by my wife’s liberty may be otherwise lost.

the sun is a foul
East India ship

full of nothing but distance
and ill weather

this is how I would speak of it to God
in his book of years

up above the light
like a lost swallow

belief limited to
an ordinary heaven

of all things
necessary and true


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 30 June 1663.

Up betimes and to my office, and by and by to the Temple, and there appointed to meet in the evening about my business, and thence I walked home, and up and down the streets is cried mightily the great victory got by the Portugalls against the Spaniards, where 10,000 slain, 3 or 4,000 taken prisoners, with all the artillery, baggage, money, &c., and Don John of Austria forced to flee with a man or two with him, which is very great news.
Thence home and at my office all the morning, and then by water to St. James’s, but no meeting to-day being holy day, but met Mr. Creed in the Park, and after a walk or two, discoursing his business, took leave of him in Westminster Hall, whither we walked, and then came again to the Hall and fell to talk with Mrs. Lane, and after great talk that she never went abroad with any man as she used heretofore to do, I with one word got her to go with me and to meet me at the further Rhenish wine-house, where I did give her a Lobster and do so touse her and feel her all over, making her believe how fair and good a skin she has, and indeed she has a very white thigh and leg, but monstrous fat. When weary I did give over and somebody, having seen some of our dalliance, called aloud in the street, “Sir! why do you kiss the gentlewoman so?” and flung a stone at the window, which vexed me, but I believe they could not see my touzing her, and so we broke up and I went out the back way, without being observed I think, and so she towards the Hall and I to White Hall, where taking water I to the Temple with my cozen Roger and Mr. Goldsborough to Gray’s Inn to his counsel, one Mr. Rawworth, a very fine man, where it being the question whether I as executor should give a warrant to Goldsborough in my reconveying her estate back again, the mortgage being performed against all acts of the testator, but only my own, my cozen said he never heard it asked before; and the other that it was always asked, and he never heard it denied, or scrupled before, so great a distance was there in their opinions, enough to make a man forswear ever having to do with the law; so they agreed to refer it to Serjeant Maynard. So we broke up, and I by water home from the Temple, and there to Sir W. Batten and eat with him, he and his lady and Sir J. Minnes having been below to-day upon the East India men that are come in, but never tell me so, but that they have been at Woolwich and Deptford, and done great deal of business. God help them. So home and up to my lute long, and then, after a little Latin chapter with Will, to bed. But I have used of late, since my wife went, to make a bad use of my fancy with whatever woman I have a mind to, which I am ashamed of, and shall endeavour to do so no more. So to sleep.

prisoners forced to eat skin
and monstrous fat

kiss the flung stone
raw as their opinions of sin

of a fancy woman
of more sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 29 June 1663.

There was the rust-colored sweater and skirt set of scratchy
mohair, its generous cowl that hotly framed my tiny face.

I sat in one of three plastic chairs onstage at the parish
gym, while the emcee took bids for a mystery box held aloft.

I hooked my feet clad in black Mary Janes around
the chair legs, trying surreptitiously to see

if Mary Ann and Meliza next to me were also drowsy.
Did we really care which one of us would be

crowned Santacruzan queen? There was a gown
of neon orange lace. Navy blue uniform skirts

three inches below the knee, the measure of growing
not yet grown into. There were sweaters of pastel-

colored acrylic yarn that gave off a noxious smell
combined with sweat; and in the awkward ‘teens,

elephant pants to pair with platform shoes.
Still, I was always the homely one, burrowing into

an armchair with a pile of books, freezing in terror
at the sound of the telephone’s shrill alarms.

I tell my daughters I never bought clothes off
the rack or owned a pair of jeans until I got

to college. Now I don them almost every day, liking
the soft frayed cuffs and their dusty, commonplace blue.

VIII

Painting by André Minaux 1

I’m living, dying, drowning, burning up –
extremes of heat and then I’m cold again.
Life is too soft on me and then too hard –
my trials are great, but intertwined with joys.

I burst out laughing and then into tears,
smile through the torment of my many wounds.
My happiness dissolves and yet endures:
I wither and I flourish, both at once.

So Love’s inconstant but remains my guide
and when the pain seems at its very worst
I rise above it unexpectedly.

Then just when I think joy has really come,
that peak experience is mine at last,
I find myself back where I started from.


Je vis, je meurs: je me brule & me noye.
J’ay chaut estreme en endurant froidure:
La vie m’est & trop molle et trop dure.
J’ay grans ennuis entremeslez de joye:

Tout à un coup je ris & je larmoye,
Et en plaisir maint grief tourment j’endure:
Mon bien s’en va, & à jamais il dure:
Tout en un coup je seiche & je verdoye.

Ainsi Amour inconstamment me meine:
Et quand je pense avoir plus de douleur,
Sans y penser je me treuve hors de peine.

Puis quand je croy ma joye estre certaine,
Et estre en haut de mon desire heur,
Il remet en mon premier malheur.

IX

Painting by André Minaux 2

As soon as I allow myself to rest,
safely tucked up in my own comfy bed,
my stupid, sorrowing mind can’t help itself –
it leaves my body, flies straight back to you.

It strikes me then: within this tender breast
I harbour still the very thing I’ve craved,
the object of my deepest sighs, of sobs
I’ve often felt would break my heart in two.

Oh sweetest sleep, oh night of happiness!
May joyful, calming rest bring me this fond
illusion every time I close my eyes.

If my poor lovesick soul is destined now
to never really know such love again,
at least let me have dreams and fantasies.


Tout aussi tot que je commence à prendre
Dens le mol lit le repos desiré,
Mon triste esprit hors de moy retiré
S’en va vers toy incontinent se rendre.

Lors m’est avis que dedens mon sein tendre
Je tiens le bien, où j’ay tant aspiré,
Et pour lequel j’ay si haut souspiré,
Que de sanglots ay souvent cuidé fendre.

O dous sommeil, o nuit à moy heureuse!
Plaisant repos, plein de tranquilité,
Continuez toutes les nuiz mon songe:

Et si ma pauvre ame amoureuse
Ne doit avoir de bien en verité,
Faites au moins qu’elle en ait en mensonge.

 

My translation of Sonnet XIV is here.

Louise Labé in Wikipedia.

Paintings by André Minaux (1923-86) – I came across his work by chance for the first time this week and the sharp, stylized imagery, often of women alone in interiors, somehow resonated with the sonnets; also an exquisite concert on the radio of short pieces by J S Bach and Jörg Widmann made me think about how mutually enhancing old and new(er) works can be.

(Lord’s day). Early in the morning my last night’s physic worked and did give me a good stool, and then I rose and had three or four stools, and walked up and down my chamber. Then up, my maid rose and made me a posset, and by and by comes Mr. Creed, and he and I spent all the morning discoursing against to-morrow before the Duke the business of his pieces of eight, in which the Treasurer makes so many queries.
At noon, my physic having done working, I went down to dinner, and then he and I up again and spent most of the afternoon reading in Cicero and other books of good discourse, and then he went away, and then came my brother Tom to see me, telling me how the Joyces do make themselves fine clothes against Mary is brought to bed. He being gone I went to cast up my monthly accounts, and to my great trouble I find myself 7l. worse than I was the last month, but I confess it is by my reckoning beforehand a great many things, yet however I am troubled to see that I can hardly promise myself to lay up much from month’s end to month’s end, about 4l. or 5l. at most, one month with another, without some extraordinary gettings, but I must and I hope I shall continue to have a care of my own expenses.
So to the reading my vows seriously and then to supper. This evening there came my boy’s brother to see for him, and tells me he knows not where he is, himself being out of town this week and is very sorry that he is gone, and so am I, but he shall come no more. So to prayers, and to bed.

early in the morning
last night’s work is in pieces

the work of joy clothes us
in nowhere

out and gone I shall come
no more to pray


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 28 June 1663.

so what if i haven’t
given up, if i keep

testing this voice
on the edge of the wind,

stringing versions of what
i’m trying to say, revising,

then taking it all back,
tomorrow and tomorrow?

don’t listen if you don’t
want to, if to you

it’s nothing. pretend
it’s the rain; something

background you
can sleep through.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Active Voice.