to hell and back

” full of myself
is how we all are

how a boy that died
being dried in an oven
lies there entire in a box

how the king is quite out of ink
and weary of everything

how rain put me
into my good night ”

after: “Replete”  – Via Negativa|Erasure poem fashioned from The Diary of Samuel Pepys

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 7 September 1665.

Up by 5 of the clock, mighty full of fear of an ague, but was obliged to go, and so by water, wrapping myself up warm, to the Tower, and there sent for the Weekely Bill, and find 8,252 dead in all, and of them 6,878 of the plague; which is a most dreadfull number, and shows reason to fear that the plague hath got that hold that it will yet continue among us. Thence to Brainford, reading “The Villaine,” a pretty good play, all the way. There a coach of Mr. Povy’s stood ready for me, and he at his house ready to come in, and so we together merrily to Swakely, Sir R. Viner’s. A very pleasant place, bought by him of Sir James Harrington’s lady. He took us up and down with great respect, and showed us all his house and grounds; and it is a place not very moderne in the garden nor house, but the most uniforme in all that ever I saw; and some things to excess. Pretty to see over the screene of the hall (put up by Sir J. Harrington, a Long Parliamentman) the King’s head, and my Lord of Essex on one side, and Fairfax on the other; and upon the other side of the screene, the parson of the parish, and the lord of the manor and his sisters. The window-cases, door-cases, and chimnys of all the house are marble. He showed me a black boy that he had, that died of a consumption, and being dead, he caused him to be dried in an oven, and lies there entire in a box.
By and by to dinner, where his lady I find yet handsome, but hath been a very handsome woman; now is old, hath brought him near 100,000l. and now he lives, no man in England in greater plenty, and commands both King and Council with his credit he gives them. Here was a fine lady a merchant’s wife at dinner with us, and who should be here in the quality of a woman but Mrs. Worship’s daughter, Dr. Clerke’s niece, and after dinner Sir Robert led us up to his long gallery, very fine, above stairs (and better, or such, furniture I never did see), and there Mrs. Worship did give us three or four very good songs, and sings very neatly, to my great delight.
After all this, and ending the chief business to my content about getting a promise of some money of him, we took leave, being exceedingly well treated here, and a most pleasant journey we had back, Povy and I, and his company most excellent in anything but business, he here giving me an account of as many persons at Court as I had a mind or thought of enquiring after. He tells me by a letter he showed me, that the King is not, nor hath been of late, very well, but quite out of humour; and, as some think, in a consumption, and weary of every thing. He showed me my Lord Arlington’s house that he was born in, in a towne called Harlington: and so carried me through a most pleasant country to Brainford, and there put me into my boat, and good night. So I wrapt myself warm, and by water got to Woolwich about one in the morning, my wife and all in bed.


Up, mighty full, by water,
wrapping to and sent and dead in all,
of the plague;
a dreadfull reason to fear the hold,
it will continue all the way.

Ready for, ready to come in,
we bought of a lady,
up and down with us all;
and it is not in the garden nor house,
but in all, and some things to excess.

To see over and on the other side
of the parson, – the lord and his sisters;
show me a boy that died, and being dead,
he lies there in a box,
where I find yet a woman;

Now old, brought near 100,000 lives,
and commands with credit;
a fine lady and in the quality of a woman,
and us up, to see, to end the business,
a promise of leave,
a journey back, by boat,
and so wrapt by water.

©wildchild47


featured image:

Konstantin Makovsky
Date: 1861
“Харон перевозит души умерших через реку Стикс”
(Charon carries dead souls across the River Styx)

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