Please write an in-depth summary of The Thought-Fox by Ted Hughes. This is a study guide question posted by eNotes Editorial. Please note that this material is intended to supplement the information presented in our eNotes study guide.

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This poem seems to describe a poet's process of encountering inspiration and writing the actual poem which results from it, using the fox of the title as a central metaphor for that inspiration. The speaker begins by imagining a darkened forest at midnight—the time at which he, evidently, is ready and prepared to write—and he feels that there is something alive here besides him. He notes the clock—he describes it, too, as lonely, perhaps because of the late hour—and the blank page sitting on the table in front of him. The speaker cannot see any stars outside his window, but he feels the presence of something else "entering the loneliness" of his midnight forest with him. At first, he is only aware of its presence, the presence of inspiration coming to him. Suddenly and quietly, a fox enters the midnight forest, touching its nose to the trees, its eyes visible through the darkness. The fox's tiny feet make neat foot prints in the surface of the snow, winding between the trees, though the fox seems to approach cautiously, warily, coming only very slowly toward the hole that represents the speaker's consciousness. The fox must be bold enough to cross wide open green spaces, clearings where it might become vulnerable, and it does eventually, with a look of concentration, come closer and closer. Suddenly, the fox is quite near, the speaker all at once aware of its overwhelming presence, its "hot stink," and the animal enters the deepest recesses of the speaker's mind— the "dark hole" of his head. There are still no stars to be seen outside, and the clock continues to tick, but now the page in front of the speaker is empty no longer: it has been "printed." The speaker has, evidently, responded to the inspiration represented by the thought fox by writing, a process which he almost seems unaware or lacking control of.

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