The perils of indolence

Up early, and being called up to my Lord he did give me many commands in his business. As about taking care to write to my uncle that Mr. Barnewell’s papers should be locked up, in case he should die, he being now suspected to be very ill. Also about consulting with Mr. W. Montagu for the settling of the 4000l. a year that the King had promised my Lord. As also about getting of Mr. George Montagu to be chosen at Huntingdon this next Parliament, &c.
That done he to White Hall stairs with much company, and I with him; where we took water for Lambeth, and there coach for Portsmouth.
The Queen’s things were all in White Hall Court ready to be sent away, and her Majesty ready to be gone an hour after to Hampton Court to-night, and so to be at Portsmouth on Saturday next.
I by water to my office, and there all the morning, and so home to dinner, where I found Pall (my sister) was come; but I do not let her sit down at table with me, which I do at first that she may not expect it hereafter from me. After dinner I to Westminster by water, and there found my brother Spicer at the Leg with all the rest of the Exchequer men (most of whom I now do not know) at dinner. Here I staid and drank with them, and then to Mr. George Montagu about the business of election, and he did give me a piece in gold; so to my Lord’s and got the chest of plate brought to the Exchequer, and my brother Spicer put it into his treasury. So to Will’s with them to a pot of ale, and so parted.
I took a turn in the Hall, and bought the King and Chancellor’s speeches at the dissolving the Parliament last Saturday.
So to my Lord’s, and took my money I brought ‘thither last night and the silver candlesticks, and by coach left the latter at Alderman Backwell’s, I having no use for them, and the former home. There stood a man at our door, when I carried it in, and saw me, which made me a little afeard.
Up to my chamber and wrote letters to Huntingdon and did other business.
This day I lent Sir W. Batten and Captn. Rider my chine of beef for to serve at dinner tomorrow at Trinity House, the Duke of Albemarle being to be there and all the rest of the Brethren, it being a great day for the reading over of their new Charter, which the King hath newly given them.

An ape should be locked up
in case he should die.
Do not sit down,
my brother Leg,
my brother Stick!
The latter I carried and feared—
of all brethren, the king.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 2 January 1660/61.

7 Replies to “The perils of indolence”

      1. This looks like something I’d enjoy doing, too – if I could find the time to ponder over a text. Thanks for the inspiration! Pray that I do something with it. :)

        1. I do recommend every poet give erasure a try. It enforces humility — and offers a great end-run around “inspiration” (or at least our preconceptions of how inspiration ought to work).

          1. How did you choose the foundational text you’re using? Is it something very foreign to you or something you know quite well? Does that even matter in choosing a text?

          2. It was something I wanted to read anyway, and I figured it would be full of earthy, concrete vocabulary. I wasn’t familiar with Pepys at all. I just knew that my own (non-erasure) poetry was really beginning to bore me. I wasn’t sure I had anything left to say. As it turned out, Pepys’ Diary was a good choice in part because his interests and the way he uses language couldn’t be more different from my own.

          3. I guess you could say I decided to do this for two reasons: to shake up my own sense of what’s poetic, and to give a very close reading to a classic of English vernacular literature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.