Thursday, November 09, 2006

from The Poetry Challenge Hearing 'The Thought Fox on the Radio'

The Thought Fox by Hughes

I wrote this poem last winter. I was asked to read at The Troubadour one animal poem no more than 25 lines and there was a week to go and I still did not have a poem. So I thought I'd read Hughes poem about the thought fox.

I was driving back late from somewhere and I put the radio on and suddenly there it was, Hughes larger than life reading the poem. And I knew I could not read it.

The next morning we were driving down to Guildford and out of the corner of my eye I saw a dead fox in the gutter of the A3. It was then I knew I had a poem at last.

At the reading, Hugh Epstein and me did a double act, he agreed to read The Thought Fox by way of an introduction to mine that followed straight after.

Ted Hughes's poem first then mine

The Thought Fox

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Besides the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The windowis starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

and my poem

Hearing “The Thought Fox” on the Radio

Midnight. Winter darkness.

I drove home
through lonely silent suburbs.

Frost gathered –
formed a white lining
in the streets.

Then the hard dark grain
of Hughes’s voice
burst into the car
conjuring his midnight fox

so loud I thought he sat beside me
haloed in neon and moonlight –
the creature hidden
in the folds of his coat.

Later, in the road
among fallen leaves and branches -
a dead fox

rolled up like a discarded carpet
rust coloured
slumped in a gutter.

The insistent reach
of Hughes’s voice still
shadows me
now, as I write.

© David Loffman

11 December 2005

1 comment:

Alan Summers said...

I love so many of those lines in your poem.

Just a few examples:

"the hard dark grain
of Hughes’s voice"

"conjuring his midnight fox"

"in neon and moonlight"

"rolled up like a discarded carpet"

"insistent reach of Hughes’s voice still shadows me"

Wonderful poem! That must have been a marvellous night for the audience, I'm very envious! ;-)


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