Hong Kong Time

  • George Howe Colt


Hanging above my desk is a copy of an engraving by William Hogarth, printed in 1736, titled ‘The Distressed Poet’. In a dreary, one-room Grub Street garret, a vain-looking fellow wearing slippers, a dressing gown, and a fretful air scratches his bewigged head as he confronts a sheet of paper on the table in front of him. The distressed poet’s wife sits nearby, darning his trousers. Other chores await her: clothes drying on a line before the fire; a mop and bucket of suds on the floor; a baby squalling in the corner; the indignant milkmaid, come to collect, waving a bill in the doorway. The firewood has run out and the cupboard is bare, but in this hovel the division of labor is clear: the woman must maintain what passes for hearth and home, while the man of the house awaits the arrival of the muse, who, thus far, has visited only long enough to supply him with the first stanza of a poem called ‘Poverty’.


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© George Howe Colt 2004

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  • George Howe Colt

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