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Word Count: 954

Explore Hughes Metaphor in The Thought-Fox

The Thought-Fox by Ted Hughes is a poem essentially about writing a poem. Hughes
imagines a scenario where he looks out of his window and describes the Fox he sees; this Fox
Hughes uses is the central image for the entire poem and his means of conveying the
metaphor.
The literal Fox in the poem is the source domain of the metaphor. The Foxs movements and
actions serve as the representation for the metaphor. It is indirectly introduced through
Something else is alive and is then directly introduced through delicately as the dark snow,
delicately suggesting that the Fox is hesitant to enter the loneliness meaning that the
hesitance of the Fox implies the hesitance of the idea coming to Hughes. The metaphor is
extended through the description of the Foxs two eyes that are given in detail of that now
And again now, and now, and now, as the most vivid description in the whole poem it
suggests Hughes being the most concentrated on the idea of his metaphorical poem. In the
next stanza the Fox sets neat prints in the dark snow which seems to suggest that the ideas
coming to Hughes, begin to become coherent due to neatness of the prints. However Hughes
ideas appear to become hesitant once more with the introduction of the lame shadow.
Shadows implies that the idea he has is only a reflection of an idea that is bold to come
meaning the literal boldness of the Foxs body but metaphorically a strong idea. Additionally
this statement seems to show Hughes optimism for the poem. Furthermore the excessive
enjambment that the poem contains could be seen as Hughes literally trying to mimic the
Foxs movement but metaphorically trying to reiterate the idea of a coherent poem.
The target domain of the poem is that writing poetry is not easy. The target is introduced in
the first stanza when Hughes mentions the blank page where his fingers move. His fingers
moving suggest that that he is writing poetry but the blank page suggests otherwise, so it
could mean that the poetry he is writing has no meaning or isnt satisfactory. In the second
stanza Hughes says that he sees no star meaning that see no ideal ideas, but see something
more near suggesting that an idea he didnt necessarily want is coming to him. However this
idea is deeper within the darkness of Hughes mind and that it is hidden. This image mirrors
that used in the first line with the midnights moments forest, the forest being associated
with lost and hidden things, similarly to Hughes mind. In stanza five, Hughes describes the
Foxs eye in detail with a widening deepening greenness, brilliantly, concentratedly. Hughes
use of these polysyllabic words make stanza difficult to read, making the reader focus on
each of the words to pronounce them correctly. This could be interpreted of Hughes trying to
say that when writing poetry you have to think of every word. Furthermore the arrangement
of the poem and in particularly stanza five causes the reader to read it slowly, implying that
Hughes is saying that writing poetry is a slow process that needs thought. Additionally, in the
last stanza Hughes describes the window as being starless still which contradicts the rest of
the poem as he has just got the idea from the Fox meaning that the Fox was not the idea he
was looking for as originally he describes the Fox as something rather than a star which
leads to the final and most poignant line the page is printed. This line creates a somewhat of

Word Count: 954

an anti-climax which can be seen as Hughes ultimate view, that poetry can be written but It
doesnt mean it was the ideal poetry that was wanted and that to find a star is difficult as this
line gives connotations of pessimism.
The metaphor would also be classed as creative but it uses conventional ideas to create the
complex ones. Firstly the title of the poem, The Thought-Fox fulfils the stereotype of the
intelligent fox but also fulfils the metaphorical purpose of the Fox being the symbol for
Hughes thoughts. The fact that Hughes uses a Fox as a metaphorical means for writing poetry
is creative in itself but the Foxs actions are conventional, for example, delicately as the dark
snow shows the stereotypical view of Foxes being sly but means (to reiterate) the hesitance
of the ideas coming to Hughes thus being the reason why sly is appropriate epithet for this
line. Another stereotypical anthropomorphism Hughes employs is that of the cunning in
stanza five with Brilliantly, concentrated, coming about its own business. This literally
describes the Foxs nature but symbolically extends the creative metaphor through Hughes
thoughts mirroring the shrewdness of the Fox. Furthermore the other non-Fox related images
are also conventional such as the star being an idea or the darkness being Hughes mind,
these are examples of images that form the basis of the metaphor (before the Fox arrives) and
introduces Hughes first opinions on the difficulty of writing poetry. Hughes uses multiple
clichd images quite cleverly, in the forms of the Fox and the setting (which could possibly
originate from Hughes life as a farmer) to extend the metaphor and illustrate his message.
In conclusion I think that Hughes has intelligently used a creative metaphor which, at first is
hard to comprehend due to its complexity through non-complex stereotypes and subtlety but
once grasped it becomes clear with each image extending the last. Through the Fox which has
Hughes centralised and made his source, he ultimately conveys his message that does
question how easy it actually is to create an adequate poem.