The thought fox

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Critical Appreciation on “The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes

Poetry is the art of expressing emotions, feelings, dreams and thoughts – anything that “inspires” men - by the use of the language (imagery, diction, figure of speech etc.).
What is unique in “The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes is that it is a poem about writing a poem. It is not a poem on what inspires the poet to write, butit is a description on the process of getting inspired. Just by looking at the title, the reader has already got an idea of the topic of the poem. The word “thought” shows the influence of thinking and using “fox” makes this an anthropomorphism, since a fox is not a human and does not “think”.

The poem starts with “I”, making the reader aware that the poet has an important role and that itwill be told from his point of view. The verb “imagine” balances between reality and fiction, which the reader will be doing during most of the poem, not sure if what the poet is saying is true or not.

“I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move”

The poet usesenjambment right at the beginning, slowing down right away the
the poem. However the “something else is alive” keeps the reader intrigued in what is going to happen next and what could be that “something”.

“Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness.”

The reader understands that there is aconnection between the poet being in a
room late at night and the darkness outside. The darkness can be a metaphor for the poet’s mind that is dark, with no thoughts for the moment but “something”, maybe an idea seems to stirring in his head, “entering the loneliness”. Using the word “something” keeps this poem mysterious, whatever the thing is. It does not have a shape, form or an outline yet.“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”

The “something” from the previous quatrains has now a somewhat form, a name
: a “fox’s nose”. It defines itself “delicately” as the falling snow around the animal in the darkness but the poet does not give more precision to itscreature, it is kept blurry and mysterious to the reader’s mind.
The repetition of the word “now” slows down the poem and seems to follow the beat of the fox’s pace in the snow. “now”, one step, “and now”, second step. The sound of the steps could be referred to the poet typing on his type writer, writing down the words flowing through his head.

“Sets neat prints into the snowBetween trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come”

The “sets neat prints into the snow” refers back to the previous quatrain and its repetition of “now” and the fox’s steps, continuing the poem with the same eye rhyme “snow”/”now”/”hollow” and the fox’s movements and search.
The “bold to come” at the end of the quatrain, anotherenjambment, is used for making a dramatic pause in the poem, which leaves the reader perplex on what is going to happen next, since nothing seems to come after, like the fox just stopped moving.

“Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business “
However the movement picks up speed all of a sudden inthis quatrain by the use of polysyllables such as “widening deepening greenness”. The poem goes faster and so does the fox. His eyes searching, founding his prey and running towards the poet who sees him clearer as it nears him. The two or three word syllables creates a threatening tone to the poem like the fox is about to attack.

“Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
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