THE DISTRESED POET (Painting By William Hogarth, (1741)

In a dingy attic garret, he sits

on a bed in his nightgown,

quill in hand. A hungry infant

lies unattended, crying on the bed.

An impoverished second-rate

scribbler, he longs for fame

and fortune like Alexander Pope

and other writers of the day.

He scratches his head,

searching for radiance

through metaphors of awe,

but the words elude him.

His pregnant wife

sits darning clothes,

surprised by a milkmaid

demanding payment.

Their room is crude,

with uneven floors,

broken windows

and cracked walls.

Their cupboard bare

with only a scrounging

mouse and dog stealing

remains of food on a plate

But the poet lives his dream:

He has pipe, tobacco, a mug

of beer, an ill-fitting wig

and lace cuffs drying by the fire.

A gentleman’s sword at his feet,

and an overhead map:

“Gold Mines Of Peru,”

feed his fantasy.