Above and Beyond

(Office day). This noon I expected to have had my cousin Snow and my father come to dine with me, but it being very rainy they did not come.
My brother Tom came to my house with a letter from my brother John, wherein he desires some books: Barthol. Anatom., Rosin. Rom. Antiq., and Gassend. Astronom., the last of which I did give him, and an angel against my father buying of the others.
At home all the afternoon looking after my workmen in my house, whose laziness do much trouble me.
This day the Parliament adjourned.

My cousin snow and my father rain
come with a letter from
my brother the angel:
Buy others a home, look after workmen,
trouble the parliament.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 12 September 1660.


At Sir W. Batten’s with Sir W. Pen we drank our morning draft, and from thence for an hour in the office and dispatch a little business.
Dined at Sir W. Batten’s, and by this time I see that we are like to have a very good correspondence and neighbourhood, but chargeable. All the afternoon at home looking over my carpenters. At night I called Thos. Hater out of the office to my house to sit and talk with me. After he was gone I caused the girl to wash the wainscot of our parlour, which she did very well, which caused my wife and I good sport. Up to my chamber to read a little, and wrote my Diary for three or four days past.
The Duke of York did go to-day by break of day to the Downs. The Duke of Gloucester ill. The House of Parliament was to adjourn to-day. I know not yet whether it be done or no.
To bed.

A rank morning.
I batten on ash—my wife—
and rot—my diary,
break down the day.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 11 September 1660.

Ursus maritimus

(Office day). News brought us of the Duke’s intention to go tomorrow to the fleet for a day or two to meet his sister. Col. Slingsby and I to Whitehall, thinking to proffer our service to the Duke to wait upon him, but meeting with Sir G. Carteret he sent us in all haste back again to hire two Catches for the present use of the Duke. So we returned and landed at the Bear at the Bridge foot, where we saw Southwark Fair (I having not at all seen Bartholomew Fair), and so to the Tower wharf, where we did hire two catches. So to the office and found Sir W. Batten at dinner with some friends upon a good chine of beef, on which I ate heartily, I being very hungry.
Home, where Mr. Snow (whom afterwards we called one another cozen) came to me to see me, and with him and one Shelston, a simple fellow that looks after an employment (that was with me just upon my going to sea last), to a tavern, where till late with them. So home, having drunk too much, and so to bed.

A white bear
catches dinner, very hungry:
snow at sea.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 10 September 1660.

Pub Crawler

(Sunday). In the morning with Sir W. Pen to church, and a very good sermon of Mr. Mills.
Home to dinner, and Sir W. Pen with me to such as I had, and it was very handsome, it being the first time that he ever saw my wife or house since we came hither.
Afternoon to church with my wife, and after that home, and there walked with Major Hart, who came to see me, in the garden, who tells me that we are all like to be speedily disbanded; and then I lose the benefit of a muster. After supper to bed.

I go home to din and wit
as sin to church.
Here, walk with me.
Tell me we all like to lose.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 9 September 1660.

Potent Combination

All day also at home. At night sent for by Sir W. Pen, with whom I sat late drinking a glass of wine and discoursing, and I find him to be a very sociable man, and an able man, and very cunning.

A pen with ink, a lass, wine:
O to be able and cunning!

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 8 September 1660.

These extra-short diary entries are the most challenging, and therefore the most entertaining, to find poems in. Thanks to Rachel (via IM) for helping me to select the best among the seven alternatives I came up with for this entry. Another one I liked was a pure sound poem…

en in in in an
in an in an an
an an an un in

…which may not rise to the level of true poetry, but certainly highlights the poetic quality hidden in ordinary, semi-repetitive prose.

Double Dutch: two poems

An office day, and in the afternoon at home all the day, it being the first that I have been at home all day since I came hither.
Putting my papers, books and other things in order, and writing of letters. This day my Lord set sail from the Downs for Holland.

An off day, an in day,
a be-at-home day.
I am my things.
I let this day down.


An office day, and in the afternoon at home all the day, it being the first that I have been at home all day since I came hither.

Putting my papers, books and other things in order, and writing of letters. This day my Lord set sail from the Downs for Holland.

Ice in the fir
came paper-thin—
a sail from Holland.

Erasure poems derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 7 September 1660.


To Whitehall by water with Sir W. Batten, and in our passage told me how Commissioner Pett did pay himself for the entertainment that he did give the King at Chatham at his coming in, and 20s. a day all the time he was in Holland, which I wonder at, and so I see there is a great deal of envy between the two.
At Whitehall I met with Commissioner Pett, who told me how Mr. Coventry and Fairbank his solicitor are falling out, one complaining of the other for taking too great fees, which is too true.
I find that Commissioner Pett is under great discontent, and is loth to give too much money for his place, and so do greatly desire me to go along with him in what we shall agree to give Mr. Coventry, which I have promised him, but am unwilling to mix my fortune with him that is going down the wind.
We all met this morning and afterwards at the Admiralty, where our business is to ask provision of victuals ready for the ships in the Downs, which we did, Mr. Gauden promising to go himself thither and see it done. Dined Will and I at my Lord’s upon a joint of meat that I sent Mrs. Sarah for.
Afterwards to my house and sent all my books to my Lord’s, in order to send them to my house that I now dwell in. Home and to bed.

Between discontent and desire,
I am willing to mix
my fortune with the wind—
ready for the ships
in all my books.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 6 September 1660.

Proverbial (1)

To the office.
From thence by coach upon the desire of the principal officers to a Master of Chancery to give Mr. Stowell his oath, whereby he do answer that he did hear Phineas Pett say very high words against the King a great while ago.
Coming back our coach broke, and so Stowell and I to Mr. Rawlinson’s, and after a glass of wine parted, and I to the office, home to dinner, where (having put away my boy in the morning) his father brought him again, but I did so clear up my boy’s roguery to his father, that he could not speak against my putting him away, and so I did give him 10s. for the boy’s clothes that I made him, and so parted and tore his indenture.
All the afternoon with the principal officers at Sir W. Batten’s about Pett’s business (where I first saw Col. Slingsby, who has now his appointment for Comptroller), but did bring it to no issue. This day I saw our Dedimus to be sworn in the peace by, which will be shortly.
In the evening my wife being a little impatient I went along with her to buy her a necklace of pearl, which will cost 4l. 10s., which I am willing to comply with her in for her encouragement, and because I have lately got money, having now above 200l. in cash beforehand in the world.
Home, and having in our way bought a rabbit and two little lobsters, my wife and I did sup late, and so to bed.
Great news now-a-day of the Duke d’Anjou’s desire to marry the Princesse Henrietta.
Hugh Peters is said to be taken, and the Duke of Gloucester is ill, and it is said it will prove the small-pox.

Chance is a rogue: my clothes tore.

I saw no peace, my wife being impatient to buy it.

A rabbit and lobster desire to marry, it is said.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 5 September 1660.

Selective Memory

I did many things this morning at home before I went out, as looking over the joiners, who are flooring my diningroom, and doing business with Sir Williams both at the office, and so to Whitehall, and so to the Bullhead, where we had the remains of our pasty, where I did give my verdict against Mr. Moore upon last Saturday’s wager, where Dr. Fuller coming in do confirm me in my verdict.
From thence to my Lord’s and despatched Mr. Cooke away with the things to my Lord. From thence to Axe Yard to my house, where standing at the door Mrs. Diana comes by, whom I took into my house upstairs, and there did dally with her a great while, and found that in Latin “Nulla puella negat.”
So home by water, and there sat up late setting my papers in order, and my money also, and teaching my wife her music lesson, in which I take great pleasure.
So to bed.

This morning at home, looking over
the remains of our past:
where did I patch the house,
where did I paper?

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 4 September 1660.


Up and to Mr. –—, the goldsmith near the new Exchange, where I bought my wedding ring, and there, with much ado, got him to put a gold ring to the jewell, which the King of Sweden did give my Lord: out of which my Lord had now taken the King’s picture, and intends to make a George of it.
This morning at my Lord’s I had an opportunity to speak with Sir George Downing, who has promised me to give me up my bond, and to pay me for my last quarter while I was at sea, that so I may pay Mr. Moore and Hawly.
About noon my Lord, having taken leave of the King in the Shield Gallery (where I saw with what kindness the King did hug my Lord at his parting), I went over with him and saw him in his coach at Lambeth, and there took leave of him, he going to the Downs, which put me in mind of his first voyage that ever he made, which he did begin like this from Lambeth. In the afternoon with Mr. Moore to my house to cast up our Privy Seal accounts, where I found that my Lord’s comes to 400 and odd pounds, and mine to 132l., out of which I do give him as good as 25l. for his pains, with which I doubt he is not satisfied, but my heart is full glad. Thence with him to Mr. Crew’s, and did fetch as much money as did make even our accounts between him and me.
Home, and there found Mr. Cooke come back from my Lord for me to get him some things bought for him to be brought after them, a toilet cap and comb case of silk, to make use of in Holland, for he goes to the Hague, which I can do to-morrow morning.
This day my father and my uncle Fenner, and both his sons, have been at my house to see it, and my wife did treat them nobly with wine and anchovies.
By reason of my Lord’s going to-day I could not get the office to meet to-day.

I take the king’s picture
and make it speak:
Pay me in kindness.
A lamb is not glad
to fetch money.
Even our accounts
with wine and anchovies.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 3 September 1660.