The Thought Fox: Ted Hughes Creation of Poetry - Essay Example

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In the essay “The Thought Fox: Ted Hughes’ Creation of Poetry” the author discusses Ted Hughes’ poem, which describes the act of creating poetry. Hughes gives a detailed description of his thought processes as he writes a poem. The beauty is that this thought process itself takes the form of a poem…
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The Thought Fox: Ted Hughes Creation of Poetry
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“The Thought Fox Ted Hughes’ Creation of Poetry. Ted Hughes’ poem, “The Thought Fox,” describes the act of creating poetry. Hughes gives a detailed description of his thought processes as he writes a poem. The beauty is that this thought process itself takes the form of a poem! The poem is filled with vivid imagery which brings to life the creative process. The poet allows the reader to enter his mind and glimpse the process by which a poem is born. Hughes shares the effort and excitement of writing a poem, making the reader one with the poet. Hughes effectively uses symbols to indicate that his poetry is like an animal which emerges from his mind with effort.
Hughes uses the fox as a symbol of his poetry. It is his muse. This effective metaphor shows that the poet’s creative inspiration is as full of warm-blooded life and movement as an animal. In the still night, the clock ticks and the poet’s fingers pass over the blank sheet of paper. But Hughes dismisses these unimportant movements and draws the reader’s attention to the fact that “Something else is alive” (2). That “something else” is Hughes’ idea which throbs with life. It first stirs in his mind as a formless being, and then tentatively takes shape and tests the ground: the fox “And again now, and now, and now / Sets neat prints into the snow” (Hughes, 12/13). The lame, cautious shadow gains confidence and boldly takes concrete shape: ideas finds expression and take on the solid form of words as they emerge from the poet’s mind.
The poet’s mind is compared to a forest. This is a particularly graphic symbol, as a forest is a fertile ground, dense with undergrowth, rich in nutrients, which is conducive to the birth of new life. The metaphorical forest of the poet’s mind lies in darkness. Every part it - twig, leaf, hollow, trees and clearings – is covered by “the dark snow” (Hughes, 9). This suggests that, underneath the blanket of snow, there are seeds holding the germ of ideas waiting to burst open with life. As the fox, Hughes’ muse, emerges from the forest of his imagination, its eye is described as “A widening deepening greenness” (Hughes, 18). The green color summons an image of dark winter trees bursting into the green buds of spring. The birth of new ideas in the poet’s mind comes with effort, just as new growth has to push its way out of the winter soil.
The effort of creation is symbolized by the setting of the poem. The poet is seated in the dark. A blank sheet of paper lies before him. His only companion is the ticking clock. The poet’s isolation is palpable. The repeated use of the word “loneliness” in lines 3 and 8 emphasize the poet’s solitary vigil as he waits for his muse’s appearance. Creating a poem is not easy: Hughes conveys this with the line, “Through the window I see no star” (Hughes, 5). Inspiring ideas are not shining clearly in the darkness of his mind’s eye, to be easily identified and plucked from his imagination. The poet has to labor in dark isolation. The birth of a poem is not a gentle, effortless event but is represented by the “sudden sharp hot stink of fox” (Hughes, 21). This phrase suggests violent, ferocious action and the smell of perspiration. Creating a poem takes effort.
“The Thought Fox” is Ted Hughes’ lesson on the creation of poetry. Hughes fills his poem with symbols which graphically demonstrate the stages in this creation. Hughes’ poem takes on life in the dark recesses of his imagination, like an animal which stirs into life and warily makes its way through a dense forest. The poem has to be coaxed into the open and given life. The poem fights its way out of the darkness of the poet’s mind in a violent act of creation and assumes concrete shape as lines on the sheet of paper. In the solitude of a dark night, Ted Hughes gives rein to his fertile imagination and composes beautiful poetry.
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Hughes, Ted. “The Thought Fox.” Title of Collection. Ed. Editors Name(s). City of Publication:
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