Early to my cozen Thomas Trice to discourse about our affairs, and he did make demand of the 200l. and the interest thereof. But for the 200l. I did agree to pay him, but for the other I did desire to be advised. So from him to Dr. Williams, who did carry me into his garden, where he hath abundance of grapes; and did show me how a dog that he hath do kill all the cats that come thither to kill his pigeons, and do afterwards bury them; and do it with so much care that they shall be quite covered; that if but the tip of the tail hangs out he will take up the cat again, and dig the hole deeper. Which is very strange; and he tells me that he do believe that he hath killed above 100 cats. After he was ready we went up and down to inquire about my affairs and then parted, and to the Wardrobe, and there took Mr. Moore to Tom Trice, who promised to let Mr. Moore have copies of the bond and my aunt’s deed of gift, and so I took him home to my house to dinner, where I found my wife’s brother, Balty, as fine as hands could make him, and his servant, a Frenchman, to wait on him, and come to have my wife to visit a young lady which he is a servant to, and have hope to trepan and get for his wife. I did give way for my wife to go with him, and so after dinner they went, and Mr. Moore and I out again, he about his business and I to Dr. Williams: to talk with him again, and he and I walking through Lincoln’s Fields observed at the Opera a new play, “Twelfth Night” was acted there, and the King there; so I, against my own mind and resolution, could not forbear to go in, which did make the play seem a burthen to me, and I took no pleasure at all in it; and so after it was done went home with my mind troubled for my going thither, after my swearing to my wife that I would never go to a play without her. So that what with this and things going so cross to me as to matters of my uncle’s estate, makes me very much troubled in my mind, and so to bed. My wife was with her brother to see his mistress today, and says she is young, rich, and handsome, but not likely for him to get.

I am a dog, come to kill
that tip of the tail again
and dig the hole deeper.

Strange to so trepan
my own never mind.
My mist is rich.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 September 1661.

At the office all the morn, dined at home; then my wife into Wood Street to buy a chest, and thence to buy other things at my uncle Fenner’s (though by reason of rain we had ill walking), thence to my brother Tom’s, and there discoursed with him about business, and so to the Wardrobe to see my Lady, and after supper with the young ladies, bought a link and carried it myself till I met one that would light me home for the link. So he light me home with his own, and then I did give him mine. This night I found Mary, my cozen W. Joyce’s maid, come to me to be my cook maid, and so my house is full again.
So to bed.

In my chest, a thin rain.
In the disco, the young ladies bought me,
light for night.
I found my Zen
useful in bed.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 10 September 1661.

To the Privy Seal in the morning, but my Lord did not come, so I went with Captain Morrice at his desire into the King’s Privy Kitchen to Mr. Sayres, the Master Cook, and there we had a good slice of beef or two to our breakfast, and from thence he took us into the wine cellar where, by my troth, we were very merry, and I drank too much wine, and all along had great and particular kindness from Mr. Sayres, but I drank so much wine that I was not fit for business, and therefore at noon I went and walked in Westminster Hall a while, and thence to Salisbury Court play house, where was acted the first time “‘Tis pity Shee’s a Whore,” a simple play and ill acted, only it was my fortune to sit by a most pretty and most ingenious lady, which pleased me much.
Thence home, and found Sir Williams both and much more company gone to the Dolphin to drink the 30s. that we got the other day of Sir W. Pen about his tankard. Here was Sir R. Slingsby, Holmes, Captn. Allen, Mr. Turner, his wife and daughter, my Lady Batten, and Mrs. Martha, &c., and an excellent company of fiddlers; so we exceeding merry till late; and then we begun to tell Sir W. Pen the business, but he had been drinking to-day, and so is almost gone, that we could not make him understand it, which caused us more sport. But so much the better, for I believe when he do come to understand it he will be angry, he has so talked of the business himself and the letter up and down that he will be ashamed to be found abused in it. So home and to bed.

A whore for drink
is my pen, but ink
is used so much better
in a letter.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 September 1661.

(Lord’s day).
To church, it being a very wet night last night and to-day, dined at home, and so to church again with my wife in the afternoon, and coming home again found our new maid Doll asleep, that she could not hear to let us in, so that we were fain to send the boy in at a window to open the door to us.
So up to my chamber all alone, and troubled in mind to think how much of late I have addicted myself to expense and pleasure, that now I can hardly reclaim myself to look after my great business of settling Gravely business, until now almost too late. I pray God give me grace to begin now to look after my business, but it always was, and I fear will ever be, my foible that after I am once got behind-hand with business, I am hard to set to it again to recover it.
In the evening I begun to look over my accounts and upon the whole I do find myself, by what I can yet see, worth near 600l., for which God be blessed, which put me into great comfort. So to supper and to bed.

Wet with my wife in the wind,
gravely I pray
God give me grace—
and cover, and comfort.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 8 September 1661.

And so was I also taught: the branch
where an invisible bird

surveys the landscape, the flat
horizon toward which,

supposedly, everything aspires.
All things defined,

reducible to a few
quick strokes to show again

the mechanism beneath,
the fatalism which determines

where they go. Here too
on the table:

nothing but a bowl,
a cup; from where the worm

looks up, the shadow and smudge,
the last figs given by the tree.