Ted Hughes

(1930 - 1998 / West Yorkshire / England)

The Thought-Fox


I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
........................
........................
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Ted Hughes's Other Poems

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  • Wind
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  • Crow's Fall
  • A Woman Unconscious

Comments about this poem (The Thought-Fox by Ted Hughes )

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  • Victoria Holdsworth (11/8/2005 12:52:00 PM)

    The Thought Fox is written in first person, omniscient

    narration. You can see this by the way the author is

    actually involved with the piece, taking a part within the

    tale told: 'I imagine.....' line 1

    This poem has a dramatic monologue effect, and the

    poets use of hook lines, intrigue and encourage the

    reader to discover what is in the forest that he tells of.

    'Something else is alive

    Besides the clocks loneliness

    And this blank page where my fingers move.'

    Here the poet has used enjambment for a pausing

    effect, and this is a controlled energy, with a vibrant

    immediacy. His personification of the clock being lonely

    is hiding a double meaning, the clock being his brain,

    cognitive thinking.

    The Thought Fox is another of his 6 stanza poems each

    containing the four-line format. In the 2nd stanza the poet

    uses his poet licence.

    'Through the window I see no star.'

    This gives the impression that there is only on star,

    however I think that the one star the he is looking for is

    the one bright spark of an idea. There is then an air of

    mystery brought into play with the poets use of a

    caesura at the end of 'star' and the next lines.

    'Something more near

    Through deeper within the darkness

    Is entering the loneliness: '

    The tone is changed again to a more faster pace as an

    animal is introduced, a fox.

    Hughes has used a term called euphony in line 9 along

    with illiteration.

    'Cold, delicately as the dark snow.....'

    A melodious sound comes from the words, something I

    would associate with snowflakes falling.

    In the second half of the third stanza, the focus changes

    quite rapidly, however the affects are subtle.

    'Two eyes serve a movement, that now

    And again now, and now, and now

    Sets neat prints in the snow....'

    I can see the eyes of the fox now, but I can also see the

    eyes of the character. The use of repetition is not just for

    effect, it is telling us something more. The character is

    trying to remember something and that is the reason for

    the repetition, and he is working out in his head how it

    would look on the paper. this is what's known as lateral

    thought. A way of solving problems by apparently

    illogical methods, a thought within a thought process.

    This is where the omniscient narration becomes more

    clearer.

    At this point the character knows what is going to happen

    thanks to the following:

    'Between trees, and warily a lame

    Shadow lags by stump and in a hollow

    Of a body that is bold to come.'

    Hughes uses this term, ' warily a lame ' as though the

    animal and the character are unconvinced and the hollow

    of the body is the space within his brain. Then again in

    line 16, enjambment is used and causes the tone of the

    piece to change.

    Something is happening, something that poses both fear

    and excitement.

    'Across clearings, an eye,

    A widening deepening greenness.....'

    Hughes uses select words which rhyme and contain two

    or three syllables to extend the rhyme and to create a

    threatening tone, which creeps upon the words, ready

    and uncertain for attack.

    'Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

    It enters the dark hole of the head'

    The shot is released. The tension has climaxed and the

    thought has entered his head with the violence of an

    animal.

    Illiteration features heavily, with the use of the animals

    description; the sound is quick and instant like the

    movement of the fox.

    In the last two lines of this piece, the ending is controlled

    and closed, and Hughes draws me back to the

    beginning two stanzas, making me re-cap on the subject

    matter past, of the star, the window and the ticking of the

    clock. Once again, I have gone back full circle to the

    blank page.

    'The window is starless still; the clock ticks....'

    The use of caesura for pause is again, deliberate, and I

    am reminded of the actions of the animal after the attack,

    and then we have the final kill, the last line is pinnacle.

    The prey is dead and so is his thought.

    'The page is printed.'

    I believe the poem signifies a change of life.

    Whilst the poem has a theme of a second event running

    through it, the poem contains images you cannot actually

    see; yet we know they exist and happened at the same

    time. The use of synchronics is a vital addition to the

    piece.

    The rules used are formality and imagery, the control of

    speed, littered with metaphor and simile all to create a

    deeper picture than the one being initially presented.

    Compared to poems like 'Wind' which has a differing

    focus with gothic overtone, The Thought Fox has a

    vibrant crispness that contains psychological realism,

    this is more composing thoughts and words or being

    visited by a muse, whereas Wind is a poem of an

    element already trying to change thoughts that have

    been acted out. (Report) Reply

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