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The Thought-Fox Analysis



Author: Poetry of Ted Hughes Type: Poetry Views: 2255

The Hawk in the Rain1957I 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 nowSets 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 comeAcross clearings, an eye,

A widening deepening greenness,

Brilliantly, concentratedly,

Coming about its own businessTill, with 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.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

I don\'t fully agree with the \'\'writing about writing\'\' idea, that isn\'t to say I don\'t understand it as it is a valid view. Im not going to throw a definition of every line at you but im sure you can develop on the idea that if you are to imagine the star to be hope and the the page to be either his emotional state or...perhaps a suicide not, and the fox getting closer and closer to him as a decent, a decent into madness from the solitude he appears to keep mentioning. Develop on this yourself and it give a darker interpretation of the poem that appeals to a more empathetic side of the reader

| Posted on 2012-11-26 | by a guest


.: :.

i am doing my first year at the university of johannesburg, south africa. nd doing my BEd degree, majoring in english and now am about to review this poem about ted hughes, the thought-fox, as i read it, i find it difficult to understand it but hopefully after my lecturer has analysed it, it will be much clearer.

| Posted on 2012-08-07 | by a guest


.: :.

i am doing my first year at the university of johannesburg, south africa. nd doing my BEd degree, majoring in english and now am about to review this poem about ted hughes, the thought-fox, as i read it, i find it difficult to understand it but hopefully after my lecturer has analysed it, it will be much clearer.

| Posted on 2012-08-07 | by a guest


.: :.

It is really an Interesting poem, but the problem is, i\'m in India it is really hard to write 6 pages on this one Lol ....
Rizgar Othman

| Posted on 2012-06-01 | by a guest


.: :.

The thought-fox is his creative imagination which he senses in the silence. Raw, natural and unbidden it comes quietly into the the vacuum of this conscious thoughts.

| Posted on 2012-05-24 | by a guest


.: :.

I had got a desire to make my business, but I did not earn enough of money to do it. Thank heaven my friend said to utilize the home loans. Thence I received the small business loan and realized my dream.

| Posted on 2012-01-02 | by a guest


.: :.

i think this is about poetic inspiration as well as baby creatin

| Posted on 2011-04-19 | by a guest


.: :.

The Thought-Fox in context of the essay he was writing, could be thought of as his analytic pursuit ,ending in submission to his inheritly creative nature. In psychoanalytic terms it may in a way represent a conflict between the ego and the id where the awake ego attempts to write an essay while the passionate subconscious id is constantly trying to overpower it, thus resulting in the subconsciousness\'s response to him during this vision. The poem is a visualization of internal conflict which became the parallel literary concept of an Apollonian and Dionysian conflict between, again, rationality and impulses.
This is an essay i just wrote on the poem for my Grade 10 English class, but i though it would be interesting to introduce a slightly different approach to its interpretation of artist intention.
B.D.

| Posted on 2011-04-06 | by a guest


.: :.

i personally think this poem is a bit boring. i am in yr8 and i find it hard to understand what he\'s going on about and it takes a minute to figure it out, but then a gian i only like modern poetry and this was written ages ago!! i do think it is clever though! i\'m going to have to do an essay on it soon!!! :(

| Posted on 2011-02-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I disagree that this poem is an eplanation for nature, perhaps it is but i think that the meaning is of the whole poem, the fox, is all a metaphore for his train of thought, ending with this metaphore being presented on paper as a poem.

| Posted on 2010-10-14 | by a guest


.: :.

Hughes uses the fox as an extended metaphor to portray his thought flow.

| Posted on 2010-05-20 | by a guest


.: :.

nice poem... a fox is such a sly and devious animal...
covering up what it done...much like the characters of a human...

| Posted on 2010-02-25 | by a guest


.: :.

Its quite interesting that Hughes has chosen fox to trace the stirrings of poetical ideas in his mind.Fox is a sly animal,very slippery.not to be caught easily.It always tries to hoodwink the hunters and other animals.Its somewhat elusive.so is also the poetry.The poetical ideas appear dim,elusive in the beginning.But as the poet goes on giving it a thought the ideas get conceptualized and its captured permanently as poetry on the page.

| Posted on 2010-02-22 | by a guest


.: :.

Its quite interesting that Hughes has chosen fox to trace the stirrings of poetical ideas in his mind.Fox is a sly animal,very slippery.not to be caught easily.It always tries to hoodwink the hunters and other animals.Its somewhat elusive.so is also the poetry.The poetical ideas appear dim,elusive in the beginning.But as the poet goes on giving it a thought the ideas get conceptualized and its captured permanently as poetry on the page.

| Posted on 2010-02-22 | by a guest


.: :.

"Thought Fox" emphasises the process of Thinking ,contemplation,inspiration and finally of creation.What better metaphor to use than a Fox,an elegant,mysterious yet a very slippery beast.It is difficult to tame such a beast,but if the right actions and approches are used with deliberate contemplation even a fox can be subdued...So is a right idea!If words are used in the right way ,with deliberation and contemplation ,with inspiration like lacan would say 'the ah-ha experience'poetry can be created...that would inspire through ages.
Doyirete.Arunachal pradesh

| Posted on 2009-09-23 | by a guest


.: :.

HUGHES IS NARRATING HIS OWN IDEAS OR VIEWS THROUGH THE FEATURES OF FOX AND FOX IS MATAPHOR IN THIS POEM.THAT IS HUGHE,S QUALITY THAT HE IMAGINES THE BEASTS IN HIS MIND AND TRIES TO REACH THE REALITY OF HUMAN BEINGS THROUGH THE IMAGINATIONS OF ANIMALS. HE HAS PORTRAYED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NATURE AND SUPER NATURE AND RELATION SHIP BETWEEM MAN ANG GOD IN THIS POEM.

| Posted on 2009-09-12 | by a guest


.: :.

HUGHES IS NARRATING HIS OWN IDEAS OR VIEWS THROUGH THE FEATURES OF FOX AND FOX IS MATAPHOR IN THIS POEM.THAT IS HUGHE,S QUALITY THAT HE IMAGINES THE BEASTS IN HIS MIND AND TRIES TO REACH THE REALITY OF HUMAN BEINGS THROUGH THE IMAGINATIONS OF ANIMALS. HE HAS PORTRAYED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NATURE AND SUPER NATURE AND RELATION SHIP BETWEEM MAN ANG GOD IN THIS POEM.

| Posted on 2009-09-12 | by a guest


.: :.

Lovely, calm and slighty tense poem. I am having trouble finding poetic devices such as metaphors as I am doing this poem for an assignment for english

| Posted on 2009-08-08 | by a guest


.: :.

i am reviwing this poem for a school essay and i agree that Ted Hughes loves nature and chose a fox. It is a successful poem and well described.
From D.Johnson

| Posted on 2009-06-20 | by a guest


.: :.

The Thought Fox is an example of literary shamanism, something Hughes believed quite strongly in. The act of writing a poem, and summoning a spirit is the same thing, allowing inspiration to come to you and enter 'the dark hole of the head'.
It's by far my favourite Hughes poem.

| Posted on 2009-04-25 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem revolves around a fox who is very hungry..by kunoto g chishi

| Posted on 2009-04-03 | by a guest


.: :.

it is an imagination of the nature and darkness. the narrator has a kind of vision which he writes down.

| Posted on 2008-10-14 | by a guest


.: :.

He uses a fox because he loves animals and nature according to my literature teacher.

| Posted on 2008-09-13 | by a guest


.: :.

i agree with the way the author speaks gives a feeling of tension of lonliness and he seems 2 get disturbed by the foxes presence

| Posted on 2008-01-31 | by a guest


.: criticism :.

THE ‘THOUGHT-FOX’ HAS often been acknowledged as one of the most completely realised and artistically satisfying of the poems in Ted Hughes’s first collection, The Hawk in the Rain. At the same time it is one of the most frequently anthologised of all Hughes’s poems. In this essay I have set out to use what might be regarded as a very ordinary analysis of this familiar poem in order to focus attention on an aspect of Hughes’s poetry which is sometimes neglected. My particular interest is in the underlying puritanism of Hughes’s poetic vision and in the conflict between violence and tenderness which seems to be directly engendered by this puritanism.
‘The thought-fox’ is a poem about writing a poem. Its external action takes place in a room late at night where the poet is sitting alone at his desk. Outside the night is starless, silent, and totally black. But the poet senses a presence which disturbs him:


Through the window
I see no star:
Something more near

Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness.


The disturbance is not in the external darkness of the night, for the night is itself a metaphor for the deeper and more intimate darkness of the poet’s imagination in whose depths an idea is mysteriously stirring. At first the idea has no clear outlines; it is not seen but felt – frail and intensely vulnerable. The poet’s task is to coax it out of formlessness and into fuller consciousness by the sensitivity of his language. The remote stirrings of the poem are compared to the stirrings of an animal – a fox, whose body is invisible, but which feels its way forward nervously through the dark undergrowth:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,

The half-hidden image which is contained within these lines is of soft snow brushing against the trees as it falls in dark flakes to the ground. The idea of the delicate dark snow evokes the physical reality of the fox’s nose which is itself cold, dark and damp, twitching moistly and gently against twig and leaf. In this way the first feature of the fox is mysteriously defined and its wet black nose is nervously alive in the darkness, feeling its way towards us. But by inverting the natural order of the simile, and withholding the subject of the sentence, the poet succeeds in blurring its distinctness so that the fox emerges only slowly out of the formlessness of the snow. Gradually the fox’s eyes appear out of the same formlessness, leading the shadowy movement of its body as it comes closer:

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. ..

In the first two lines of this passage the rhythm of the verse is broken by the punctuation and the line-endings, while at the same time what seemed the predictable course of the rhyme-scheme is deliberately departed from. Both rhythmically and phonetically the verse thus mimes the nervous, unpredictable movement of the fox as it delicately steps forward, then stops suddenly to check the terrain before it runs on only to stop again. The tracks which the fox leaves in the snow are themselves duplicated by the sounds and rhythm of the line ‘Sets neat prints into the snow’. The first three short words of this line are internal half-rhymes, as neat, as identical and as sharply outlined as the fox’s paw-marks, and these words press down gently but distinctly into the soft open vowel of ‘snow’. The fox’s body remains indistinct, a silhouette against the snow. But the phrase ‘lame shadow’ itself evokes a more precise image of the fox, as it freezes alertly in its tracks, holding one front-paw in mid-air, and then moves off again like a limping animal. At the end of the stanza the words ‘bold to come’ are left suspended – as though the fox is pausing at the outer edge of some trees. The gap between the stanzas is itself the clearing which the fox, after hesitating warily, suddenly shoots across: ‘Of a body that is bold to come / Across clearings. ..’

At this point in the poem the hesitant rhythm of that single sentence which is prolonged over five stanzas breaks into a final and deliberate run. The fox has scented safety. After its dash across the clearing of the stanza-break, it has come suddenly closer, bearing down upon the poet and upon the reader:

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

It is so close now that its two eyes have merged into a single green glare which grows wider and wider as the fox comes nearer, its eyes heading directly towards ours: ‘Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox / It enters the dark hole of the head’. If we follow the ‘visual logic’ of the poem we are compelled to imagine the fox actually jumping through the eyes of the poet – with whom the reader of the poem is inevitably drawn into identification. The fox enters the lair of the head as it would enter its own lair, bringing with it the hot, sensual, animal reek of its body and all the excitement and power of the achieved vision.
The fox is no longer a formless stirring somewhere in the dark depths of the bodily imagination; it has been coaxed out of the darkness and into full consciousness. It is no longer nervous and vulnerable, but at home in the lair of the head, safe from extinction, perfectly created, its being caught for ever on the page. And all this has been done purely by the imagination. For in reality there is no fox at all, and outside, in the external darkness, nothing has changed: ‘The window is starless still; the clock ticks, / The page is printed.’ The fox is the poem, and the poem is the fox. ‘And I suppose,’ Ted Hughes has written, ‘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.’
Ali Homayoun


| Posted on 2007-09-15 | by a guest


.: the thought fox :.

i think the fact that the writer has chosen to choose fox to describe his thought is interesting, i think it represtents the fact that like a fox ideas can be hard to find and they can slip away easily.

at the point where "a hot stink of fox" enters the poem i think this represents the writer suddenly realising that he has a good idea.

the subjest in the poem is kind of subconsiously writing the poem as when he wakes up he has a printed page, also the poem has gone round in a circle because the words star, clock and window all appear in the first and last stanzers. so its gone in a circle the only difference is his printed page. richardbelk@hotmail.com 15

| Posted on 2006-03-16 | by Approved Guest


.: :.

For those of you suffering from writer's block, look at the way Ted Hughes achieves inspiration. He talks of an idea forming at first vague and indistinct that hovers on the verge of consciousness and then suddenly explodes into his brain with all the power of creative inspiration. This poem is a description of this process, but it is couched in the terms of a pervasive metaphor of a fox warily approaching its den until it at last enters it. This poem can be appreciated at two levels, either as a brilliantly accurate description of the real fox or as the metaphor for the act of poetic creation. Both are equally valid. Notice some of the techniques the poet uses to achieve his final effect. He uses alliteration to bind the sense of his words with the sound patterns, following the basic theory that what sounds right must mean right (I imagine this midnight moment's forest; warily a lame shadow lags by stump and in hollow of a body that is bold to come across clearings.) He uses run-on lines associated with half rhyme and eye rhyme, so that the poem actually has rhyme, but it is barely discernible. He is very aware of how the speed of a line can be determined by the number of syllables in each word, following the basic theory that monosyllables slow a line down, whereas polysyllables speed it up. Using this principle the pace of the poem actually matches the pace of the fox's movements ("that now and again now, and now, and now sets neat prints into the snow" - this is extremely staccato and slow. "A widening deepening greenness, brilliantly, concentratedly, coming about its own business." - this by contrast is extremely fast.)He uses a variety of senses in this poem - hearing, touch, sight and eventually smell. He uses them in an order of increasing intensity finishing with smell, the most primitive but the most intimate. He uses that figure of speech known technically as synecdoche, where the part represents the whole. The fox here is variously represented by his paw prints, his nose, his eye and his stink. The portrait of the real fox is so utterly convincing, that it comes as a bit of a shock at the end of the poem when it enters not its earth, but a hole in your head, for after all it is a thought fox and the poem ends with the finality of "the page is printed."



| Posted on 2005-04-03 | by hanuman




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