So – just disrupting the challenge here – knowing I’ll be busy tomorrow – hence two quotes in one day 😉
from the poem “The Thought Fox” – by Ted Hughes (from his first collection “The Hawk in the Rain”, 1957).
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 fox as a metaphor for the imaginative process. This last stanza – the moment when the poem itself is written. I’ve always loved this poem, and I think it has informed my own strong affinity for metaphor.
I’ve always thought of the fox in both a literal and metaphoric sense. As alive, as real, something the poet may have seen as he looked out into the dark night, and at the same time, visualised it as the poetic imagination, the creative energy that wakens when the poet seeks to begin a piece of writing. The vital imaginative energy of the fox enters the poet’s mind. The fox representing something wild and dark and mysterious, a tentative essence that cautiously moves closer until it chooses to enter the poet’s head.
This metaphor represents the idea that the poem comes from somewhere beyond the poet, some kind of mystic, supernatural inspiration. Poetry, any kind or writing, is also a lot of really hard work, it takes a conscious effort on the part of the writer. If we waited for inspiration to walk out of the night, we may never bring anything on to the page. I think that writing is a balance of the two.
What I find even more interesting is Ted Hughes’ description of how a fox came to him in a dream. He was struggling over an essay and finding it impossible to write. When he finally slept, he dreamt of a large fox that walked upright, its fur burnt, as if it had walked through fire. It placed a bloody paw on his paper and said “Stop this – you are destroying us”.
I wonder who was meant by “us” – his unwritten poems perhaps?
Fox as real living creature, poetic metaphor and Jungian dream symbol. Something to investigate…