Ted Hughes, ‘The Thought-Fox’ and Frank O’Hara, ‘Why I am not a Painter’
Ashley Hibbert - March 1997
(a) In what ways is each poem concerned with the time in which the creativeexperience occurs?
‘The Thought-Fox’ uses the clock as the measurement of time throughout, with theticking of each second background in the introduction and conclusion. Hughes makestime precious by harnessing the ‘midnight moment’ of solitude, and as the idea of thefox emerges, the Poem increases in tempo like an idea taking form and buildingmomentum. By the end of the poem, the idea has becomes like the fox - swiftly formed.The repetition of the word “now” to describe the fox’s paw-prints in the snow - likewords on paper - motivates the reader to imitate the swiftness of the fox in the speed inwhich they read.“Moment” is used twice in the poem indicating the poet’s spontaneous nature.His inspiration is subject to that precious waited upon moment of darkness and solitude,and other descriptive language is used to mark the process of time.‘Why I am not a Painter’ however has little regard for time, with its casual toneand nature partially established by its long duration. “Days go by” and “one day”,applied twice, signify the time the events take place in. O’Hara’s poem records a seriesof interlinked events that occur over a stretch of days. Thus, those uncontrollable eventsdictate the plot of the poem, not the poet. The relaxed passings of days portray theevolution of both painting and poem.