Ted Hughes wrote this while at Cambridge studying Literature, after dreaming that a human-sized fox, with a human hand, placed a bloody print on his blank page, saying, "Stop this -- you are destroying us."
Hughes in a subsequent letter: "I connected the fox's commands to my own ideas about Eng. Lit. and the effect of the Cambridge blend of pseudo-critical terminology and social rancor on creative spirits and from that moment abandoned my efforts to adapt myself ... it seemed to me not only a foolish game, but deeply destructive of myself."
I've spent this weekend mentally grateful for surviving my new temp job this past week, which involved kowtowing to high-powered executives. I actually beamed with pleasure when one guy praised me for fetching him the right-sized binder-clips from the supply room.
"Stop this -- you are destroying us."
And yet: I can't live in a shed; nor do I have a Sylvia Plath to get me published, introduce me to her literarily/academically well-connected friends, and support me financially.
I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside 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,
Coming about its own business
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.