Up very early and to my office, and there continued till noon. So to dinner, and in comes uncle Fenner and the two Joyces. I sent for a barrel of oysters and a breast of veal roasted, and were very merry; but I cannot down with their dull company and impertinent. After dinner to the office again. So at night by coach to Whitehall, and Mr. Coventry not being there I brought my business of the office to him, it being almost dark, and so came away and took up my wife. By the way home and on Ludgate Hill there being a stop I bought two cakes, and they were our supper at home.
An office dinner:
in come the oysters
with their dull company
and I am ill.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 8 April 1662.
It was the year we found the apartment
a block away from the church— The bits
of communion made of fresh baked bread, wheat
that warmed the famished tongue. Mrs. G,
the landlady, opened the door with a brass key she took
from a chain in her duster pocket. What is your job,
she asked. Door after door, the ritual of opening. Behind one,
a claw-footed tub. Radiators that hummed through thicknesses
of paint. We took the first floor unit on the right.
Across us, a couple who liked to smoke on their balcony
ringed with potted plants. He liked to toss
his cigarette butts over the railing.
At dusk we saw Mrs. G come down
to the sidewalk— She picked up each stub,
past smolder, and aimed. We wondered if they
ever noticed the grimy squares at their feet.
There are places one can go
to learn how to write a single
character on a clean sheet of paper—
Before that moment,
the daily test on surfaces
made of water.
By water to Whitehall and thence to Westminster, and staid at the Parliament-door long to speak with Mr. Coventry, which vexed me. Thence to the Lords’ House, and stood within the House, while the Bishops and Lords did stay till the Chancellor’s coming, and then we were put out, and they to prayers.
There comes a Bishop; and while he was rigging himself, he bid his man listen at the door, whereabout in the prayers they were but the man told him something, but could not tell whereabouts it was in the prayers, nor the Bishop neither, but laughed at the conceit; so went in: but, God forgive me! I did tell it by and by to people, and did say that the man said that they were about something of saving their souls, but could not tell whereabouts in the prayers that was.
I sent in a note to my Lord Privy Seal, and he came out to me; and I desired he would make another deputy for me, because of my great business of the Navy this month; but he told me he could not do it without the King’s consent, which vexed me. So to Dr. Castle’s, and there did get a promise from his clerk that his master should officiate for me to-morrow.
Thence by water to Tom’s, and there with my wife took coach and to the old Exchange, where having bought six large Holland bands, I sent her home, and myself found out my uncle Wight and Mr. Rawlinson, and with them went to the latter’s house to dinner, and there had a good dinner of cold meat and good wine, but was troubled in my head after the little wine I drank, and so home to my office, and there did promise to drink no more wine but one glass a meal till Whitsuntide next upon any score.
Mrs. Bowyer and her daughters being at my house I forbore to go to them, having business and my head disturbed, but staid at my office till night, and then to walk upon the leads with my wife, and so to my chamber and thence to bed.
The great talk is, that the Spaniards and the Hollanders do intend to set upon the Portuguese by sea, at Lisbon, as soon as our fleet is come away; and by that means our fleet is not likely to come yet these two months or three; which I hope is not true.
I listen to people say
something of saving their souls,
but prayers vex me.
Change and good wine
trouble my head of glass,
my head of lead.
Great is the land set upon by sea.
Hope is not true.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 7 April 1662.
(Lord’s day). By water to White Hall, to Sir G. Carteret, to give him an account of the backwardness of the ships we have hired to Portugall.
At which he is much troubled. Thence to the Chappell, and there, though crowded, heard a very honest sermon before the King by a Canon of Christ Church, upon these words, “Having a form of godliness, but denying,” &c. Among other things, did much insist upon the sin of adultery: which methought might touch the King, and the more because he forced it into his sermon, methinks, besides his text.
So up and saw the King at dinner; and thence with Sir G. Carteret to his lodgings to dinner, with him and his lady, where I saluted her, and was well received as a stranger by her; she seems a good lady, and all their discourse, which was very much, was upon their sufferings and services for the King. Yet not without some trouble, to see that some that had been much bound to them, do now neglect them; and others again most civil that have received least from them.
And I do believe that he hath been a good servant to the King.
Thence to walk in the Park, where the King and Duke did walk round the Park. After I was tired I went and took boat to Milford stairs, and so to Graye’s Inn walks, the first time I have been there this year, and it is very pleasant and full of good company. When tired I walked to the Wardrobe, and there staid a little with my Lady, and so by water from Paul’s Wharf (where my boat staid for me), home and supped with my wife with Sir W. Pen, and so home and to bed.
Before the words
of god, the things
the king thinks:
a stranger is trouble,
a good servant
is very pleasant
an aid—a little wharf.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 6 April 1662.
the needle slips
into the cloth
No one has remembered
to knot the thread
At the office till almost noon, and then broke up. Then came Sir G. Carteret, and he and I walked together alone in the garden, taking notice of some faults in the office, particularly of Sir W. Batten’s, and he seemed to be much pleased with me, and I hope will be the ground of a future interest of mine in him, which I shall be glad of. Then with my wife abroad, she to the Wardrobe and there dined, and I to the Exchange and so to the Wardrobe, but they had dined. After dinner my wife and the two ladies to see my aunt Wight, and thence met me at home. From thence (after Sir W. Batten and I had viewed our houses with a workman in order to the raising of our roofs higher to enlarge our houses) I went with them by coach first to Moorfields and there walked, and thence to Islington and had a fine walk in the fields there, and so, after eating and drinking, home with them, and so by water with my wife home, and after supper to bed.
I walked alone, taking
notice of the ground—
a future of mine
which I shall be glad
raising our roof higher
our first moor.
I had a fine walk
in the fields—
the home I ate.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 5 April 1662.
Under the scaffolding,
under the paint: erasure
Everything may not
In response to Via Negativa: Currency.
The root pushes up green shoots.
In the lot at the end of the street, visible bands of magenta.
First the crepe myrtles, then the pale tree lilacs, then magnolias.
We exclaim at their suddenness, their exponential amends for absence.
I want just for the moment to think only of this—
Something like profusion, something like a surplus, please not soon taken away—
Not the effort it cost, not the blind tunneling through softening loam.
In response to Via Negativa: Have a nice day.
By barge Sir George, Sir Williams both and I to Deptford, and there fell to pay off the Drake and Hampshire, then to dinner, Sir George to his lady at his house, and Sir Wm. Pen to Woolwich, and Sir W. Batten and I to the tavern, where much company came to us and our dinner, and somewhat short by reason of their taking part away with them. Then to pay the rest of the Hampshire and the Paradox, and were at it till 9 at night, and so by night home by barge safe, and took Tom Hater with some that the clerks had to carry home along with us in the barge, the rest staying behind to pay tickets, but came home after us that night. So being come home, to bed.
I was much troubled to-day to see a dead man lie floating upon the waters, and had done (they say) these four days, and nobody takes him up to bury him, which is very barbarous.
a dead man floating
on the water
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 4 April 1662.