Pepys Diary erasure project

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

This morning my wife dressed herself fine to go to the christening of Mrs. Hunt’s child, and so she and I in the way in the morning went to the Paynter’s, and there she sat till noon, and I all the while looking over great variety of good prints which he had, and by and by comes my boy to tell us that Mrs. Hunt has been at our house to tell us that the christening is not till Saturday next. So after the Paynter had done I did like the picture pretty well, and my wife and I went by coach home, but in the way I took occasion to fall out with my wife very highly about her ribbands being ill matched and of two colours, and to very high words, so that, like a passionate fool, I did call her whore, for which I was afterwards sorry. But I set her down at home, and went myself by appointment to the Dolphin, where Sir W. Warren did give us all a good dinner, and that being done, to the office, and there sat late, and so home.

I come to Christ
not like a wife but
like a whore,
set down by appointment
to give all.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 19 December 1661.

(Lord’s day). To church in the morning, where our young Reader begun the first day to read. Sir W. Pen dined with me and we were merry. Again to church and so home, and all alone read till bedtime, and so to prayers and to bed.
I have been troubled this day about a difference between my wife and her maid Nell, who is a simple slut, and I am afeard we shall find her a cross-grained wench. I am now full of study about writing something about our making of strangers strike to us at sea; and so am altogether reading Selden and Grotius, and such other authors to that purpose.

I read
read all alone

read till I am cross-
grained I am

full of strangers
I am read.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 15 December 1661.

All the morning at home lying in bed with my wife till 11 o’clock. Such a habit we have got this winter of lying long abed. Dined at home, and in the afternoon to the office. There sat late, and so home and to bed.

lying in bed
with my wife—
winter afternoon


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 14 December 1661. Two other possibilities I didn’t like quite as much:

11 o’clock
this winter bed
no bed

all morning with my clock—
such a winter of lying
to the office

We lay long in bed, then up and made me ready, and by and by come Will Bowyer and Mr. Gregory, my old Exchequer friend, to see me, and I took them to the Dolphin and there did give them a good morning draft, and so parted, and invited them and all my old Exchequer acquaintance to come and dine with me there on Wednesday next.
From thence to the Wardrobe and dined with my Lady, where her brother, Mr. John Crew, dined also, and a strange gentlewoman dined at the table as a servant of my Lady’s; but I knew her not, and so I am afeard that poor Madamoiselle was gone, but I since understand that she is come as housekeeper to my Lady, and is a married woman. From thence to Westminster to my Lord’s house to meet my Lord Privy Seal, who appointed to seal there this afternoon, but by and by word is brought that he is come to Whitehall, and so we are fain to go thither to him, and there we staid to seal till it was so late that though I got leave to go away before he had done, yet the office was done before I could get thither, and so to Sir W. Pen’s, and there sat and talked and drank with him, and so home.

my old friend
my old acquaintance
my strange table
the sea
is white as ice


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 12 December 1661.