Pepys Diary erasure project

Since January 1, 2013, a daily exercise in erasure poetry based on the 17th-century Diary of Samuel Pepys.

This day I put on my half cloth black stockings and my new coat of the fashion, which pleases me well, and with my beaver I was (after office was done) ready to go to my Lord Mayor’s feast, as we are all invited; but the Sir Williams were both loth to go, because of the crowd, and so none of us went, and I staid and dined with them, and so home, and in evening, by consent, we met at the Dolphin, where other company came to us, and should have been merry, but their wine was so naught, and all other things out of order, that we were not so, but staid long at night, and so home and to bed. My mind not pleased with the spending of this day, because I had proposed a great deal of pleasure to myself this day at Guildhall.
This Lord Mayor, it seems, brings up again the Custom of Lord Mayors going the day of their installment to Paul’s, and walking round about the Cross, and offering something at the altar.

Kings of ash, we are
an evening company
and should have been merry

but the wine and all
other things stayed
on the altar.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 October 1661.

At the office all the morning, and dined at home, and so to Paul’s Churchyard to Hunt’s, and there found my Theorbo done, which pleases me very well, and costs me 26s. to the altering. But now he tells me it is as good a lute as any is in England, and is worth well 10l. Hither I sent for Captain Ferrers to me, who comes with a friend of his, and they and I to the Theatre, and there saw “Argalus and Parthenia,” where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men’s clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw, and I was very well pleased with it. Thence to the Ringo alehouse, and thither sent for a belt-maker, and bought of him a handsome belt for second mourning, which cost me 24s., and is very neat.

A theorbo
is as good as
a captain of
a theater,
a woman in
men’s clothes,
the best legs,
an alehouse,
a hit,
a hand-
some urn.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 October 1661.

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning; where in the pew both Sir Williams and I had much talk about the death of Sir Robert, which troubles me much; and them in appearance, though I do not believe it; because I know that he was a cheque to their engrossing the whole trade of the Navy office. Home to dinner, and in the afternoon to church again, my wife with me, whose mourning is now grown so old that I am ashamed to go to church with her. And after church to see my uncle and aunt Wight, and there stayed and talked and supped with them, and were merry as we could be in their company. Among other things going up into their chamber to see their two pictures, which I am forced to commend against my judgment, and also she showed us her cabinet, where she had very pretty medals and good jewels. So home and to prayers and to bed.

A morning where
I talk about death
though I do not believe
in mourning, grown
so old that I am ashamed
to be in the picture.
And she showed us
her cabinet where she had
very pretty prayers.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27 October 1661.

This morning Sir W. Pen and I should have gone out of town with my Lady Batten, to have met Sir William coming back from Portsmouth; at Kingston, but could not, by reason that my Lord of Peterborough (who is to go Governor of Tangier) came this morning, with Sir G. Carteret, to advise with us about completing of the affairs and preparacions for that place. So at the office all the morning, and in the afternoon Sir W. Pen, my wife and I to the Theatre, and there saw “The Country Captain,” the first time it hath been acted this twenty-five years, a play of my Lord Newcastle’s, but so silly a play as in all my life I never saw, and the first that ever I was weary of in my life. So home again, and in the evening news was brought that Sir R. Slingsby, our Comptroller (who hath this day been sick a week), is dead; which put me into so great a trouble of mind, that all the night I could not sleep, he being a man that loved me, and had many qualitys that made me to love him above all the officers and commissioners in the Navy. Coming home we called at Dan Rawlinson’s; and there drank good sack, and so home.

My mouth is
a theater, the first
play I never saw,
the first I was
weary of—so dead
that I could
not sleep.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 26 October 1661.

To Whitehall, and so to dinner at the Wardrobe, where my wife met me, and there we met with a venison pasty, and my Lady very merry and very handsome, methought. After dinner my wife and I to the Opera, and there saw again “Love and Honour,” a play so good that it has been acted but three times and I have seen them all, and all in this week; which is too much, and more than I will do again a good while. Coming out of the house we met Mrs. Pierce and her comrade Mrs. Clifford, and I seeming willing to stay with them to talk my wife grew angry, and whether she be jealous or no I know, not, but she loves not that I should speak of Mrs. Pierce. Home on foot very discontented, in my way I calling at the Instrument maker, Hunt’s, and there saw my lute, which is now almost done, it being to have a new neck to it and to be made to double strings. So home and to bed. This day I did give my man Will a sound lesson about his forbearing to give us the respect due to a master and mistress.

Hands ought
to play. Three times
this week we speak,
my instrument and I, neck
to strings.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 25 October 1661.

At the office all morning, at noon Luellin dined with me, and then abroad to Fleet Street, leaving my wife at Tom’s while I went out and did a little business. So home again, and went to see Sir Robert, who continues ill, and this day has not spoke at all, which makes them all afeard of him. So home.

Road to street
my bus went

to see and poke
at the ear.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 24 October 1661.

To Whitehall, and there, to drink our morning, Sir W. Pen and I to a friend’s lodging of his (Collonell Treswell), and at noon he and I dined together alone at the Legg in King Street, and so by coach to Chelsy to my Lord Privy Seal’s about business of Sir William’s, in which we had a fair admittance to talk with my Lord, and had his answer, and so back to the Opera, and there I saw again “Love and Honour,” and a very good play it is. And thence home, calling by the way to see Sir Robert Slingsby, who continues ill, and so home.
This day all our office is invited against Tuesday next, my Lord Mayor’s day, to dinner with him at Guildhall. This evening Mr. Holliard came and sat with us, and gave us both directions to observe.

I drink alone.
The street is
a good play—
a way to see
home in all
directions.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 23 October 1661.

At the office all the morning, where we had a deputation from the Duke in his absence, he being gone to Portsmouth, for us to have the whole disposal and ordering of the Fleet. In the afternoon about business up and down, and at night to visit Sir R. Slingsby, who is fallen sick of this new disease, an ague and fever. So home after visiting my aunt Wight and Mrs. Norbury (who continues still a very pleasant lady), and to supper, and so to bed.

where is
a mouth for us

who is fleet in
the afternoon
and at night who
is fallen sick
of this new ague
and fever

who continues


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 22 October 1661.

Early with Mr. Moore by coach to Chelsy, to my Lord Privy Seal’s, but have missed of coming time enough; and having taken up Mr. Pargiter, the goldsmith (who is the man of the world that I do most know and believe to be a cheating rogue), we drank our morning draft there together of cake and ale, and did make good sport of his losing so much by the King’s coming in, he having bought much of Crown lands, of which, God forgive me! I am very glad. At Whitehall, at the Privy Seal, did with Sir W. Pen take advice about passing of things of his there that concern his matters of Ireland. Thence to the Wardrobe and dined, and so against my judgment and conscience (which God forgive, for my very heart knows that I offend God in breaking my vows herein) to the Opera, which is now newly begun to act again, after some alteracion of their scene, which do make it very much worse; but the play, “Love and Honour,” being the first time of their acting it, is a very good plot, and well done. So on foot home, and after a little business done in my study and supper, to bed.

“Time enough” is a cheat;
we make good sport
of losing. Give me
the passing of things: heart
breaking in the opera,
a love done
after a little sin.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 21 October 1661.

(Lord’s day). At home in bed all the morning to ease my late tumour, but up to dinner and much offended in mind at a proud trick my man Will hath got, to keep his hat on in the house, but I will not speak of it to him to-day; but I fear I shall be troubled with his pride and laziness, though in other things he is good enough. To church in the afternoon, where a sleepy Presbyter preached, and then to Sir W. Batten who is to go to Portsmouth to-morrow to wait upon the Duke of York, who goes to take possession and to set in order the garrison there. Supped at home and to bed.

A bed in
my mind,
a hat on the house:
I fear a good sleep.
It goes to take
possession and
to sup.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 20 October 1661.