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The Thought-Fox

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:


Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:


Something more near
though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow


A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow


Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,


A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox,


It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

Ted Hughes said that long after I am gone, as long as a copy of the poem exists, every time anyone reads it the fox will
get up somewhere out of the darkness and come walking towards them.The poem appeared in Ted Hughess first
collection, The Hawk in the Rain.
The Thought-fox is a short beautiful poem. Is deals with the idea of poetic inspiration how an abstract idea comes in the
mind and changes into a concrete for, how instinct replaces intellect and how much solitude and quiet environment a poet
needs to create a poem and that the inspiration comes all of a sudden not at the sweet will of the poet.

The title of the poem is very apt and suitable to the theme of the poem. It is both symbolic and metaphoric. It also throws
light on Hughes skill of using animal imagery to show human behavior and actions. The attitude of the poet is
philosophical as he meditates on the nature and development of an idea.

The midnight is chosen at the time as it is without any addition to the day, as blank as the poets mind itself. The time is
unmarked, and yet mature. The clock is alone as it is devoid of minutes and seconds, it being midnight. Further, the clock
is alive as it is lonely. And there is something else that accompanies the loneliness of the clock-that is the poets creative
consciousness. The metaphor for the poets fresh poetic perception is the blank paper where his fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:

Something more near

Though deeper within darkness

Is entering the loneliness.

Note that the poet cannot observe any star but can comprehend something that holds more promise for him. He cannot
apprehend it through the senses but experience it through instinct..The image is first formless and can only be a
professed feeling formless as the poetic vision of the poet itself, until it assumes concrete shape. It does not enter in a
strained and enforced manner but as delicately as snow falls in. The foxs nose touches deftly against the twig, leaf. The
nose feels its way through the darkness. At once the fox transforms itself to the concrete and persistent image of the
poets creative working progress. By utilizing an animal as the reflection for his thought process, one wonders whether Ted
Hughes writes primarily through instinct.

Two eyes serve a movement, that now

And again now, and now, and now

These eyes look to the readers like both the foxs eyes and also the poets studied eye movements. The fox goes on to
set neat prints on the snow, the writing comes across coherently and clearly on the paper. The soft snow brushing against
the trees falls in dark flakes to the ground, as the words on the blank paper, and in a lovely manner fall into place. The
words: now/And again now, and now, and now point to the continuity that has been picked up by the poet. The continuity
is accompanied by punctuation-therefore it is a staggering continuity; the idea being reinforced by the word lame. The
predictable rhyme scheme is also departed from, reflecting urgency on the part of the poet and the fox to reach their
destination disregarding rhythm for the time being. The movement of the lines voice the movement of the fox. Alliteration
is utilized to mime coherence. Though at first, the fox is agile, it staggers occasionally

Between trees, and warily a lame

Shadow lags by stump and in hollow

Of a body that is bold to come


At times, it appears like a lame shadow endeavoring to pick up speed and accelerate towards the final goal. The term
stump refers to the base of the tree that is incomplete without the tree-top. The stump at once functions as an invasive
metaphor for the writers block. The poet has to make his creativity go beyond the stump and not leave his poetic
capabilities stunted. It is in the hollow of a body that is bold to come, yet to flourish and blossom.

Across clearings, an eye,

A widening deepening greenness,

Brilliantly, concentratedly,

Coming about its own business

Across the clearings and the undergrowth, there is indeed an eye. The eye standing for insight here. This insight is
coupled with a widening and deepening greenness,. The greenness symbolizing fertility and creation at once. Its
business is that of its own, not one of after-thought, but that of impulse.

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head.

The window is starless still; the clock ticks,

The page is printed.

The poet thought process is filled with hot stink of the fox, the heat of its passion. The thought-process is saturated now,
and hence hot and humid. As the poem comes into place, the window is starless still. The poet at had first set eyes
outside the window, for inspiration. Nevertheless, towards the end of the poem he comes to recognize that inspiration
comes from within, and not outside. The window is starless still, yet-the page is printed Intuition reigns over inspiration
here, and instinct over reason.