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Critical Commentary on The Though-Fox written by Ted Hughes.

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Introduction

Critical Commentary on The Though-Fox The Thought-Fox, is one of a number of animal poems written by Ted Hughes. In this poem he uses the extended metaphor of a fox to represent his inspirations and ideas. By describing the movements and actions of the fox, we are taken through step by step how this, and perhaps other poems were written. The first stanza immediately introduces us to the setting of the poem and to the poet himself. It is "midnight", which is the most mysterious time of night, and he is imagining this "moment" in the "forest". The alliteration of the 'm' sounds found in "imagine this midnight moment" creates a harmonious sound which mirrors the setting it is describing. This is the unreal setting which then continues throughout the poem and contrasts with the real, domestic setting of "clock" ticking. A "forest" is a wild place where anything can happen, which leads us to think that it is a metaphor for the speaker's mind, or imagination. The colon found after the word "forest" creates the sense that a list will follow but at the same time separates the two settings. ...read more.

Middle

In the third stanza we find ourselves completely engaged inside the poet's mind. We learn for the first time that the ,mysterious "something", is in fact a "fox". The "fox's nose touches" a "twig" and then a "leaf". This gives us the impression that the fox is actually searching for something as it is gradually revealing itself. If we take that the "fox" is a metaphor for the poet's imagination, then this suggests that ideas are slowly beginning to become more clear to him, although he does not know what it will lead to in the end. The beginning of the writing process is therefore very delicate, however speed and certainty build up. This is illustrated to us by the repetition of the word "now" which speeds up the rhythm and creates a sense of excitement as the writer achieves his purpose. It also emphasises the mechanical nature of writing. Stanza four begins with a run on line from stanza three. The "neat prints" which the fox leaves on "the snow" are actually a pun and also refer to the word being printed neatly by the writer on the "blank page". ...read more.

Conclusion

This is to illustrate how once the fox, or ideas, start coming they do not stop until they have fully entered the head. We can also observe that the rhythm of the poem gradually increases as the fox reveals itself. The full stop after the word "head" brings us back to the real setting of the poem. In this world nothing has changed as the "window is starless still" and the "clock" still "ticks", however as if by magic the "page is printed". This contrasts and links back to stanza one, where the page was still "blank". The caesura in this sentence interrupts the rhythm giving a sense that the real world is quite dry and boring compared to the writers mind. In conclusion, this poem is generally about the experience of the speaker, who has recorded his creative experience as a metaphor of a fox emerging from a forest, hence giving the title The Thought-Fox. We feel that the process of writing is almost unconscious. Words form themselves or take place gradually, until they become absolutely clear. The actual act of creativity becomes then a satisfying conclusion to the waiting. For the writer, the imagined setting is the more real and important to him. ...read more.

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