Thursday, 17 September 2009
Just over a year ago I blogged about my meetings with Czech foxes I wrote then of how they are meant to be lucky. My meetings with our local fox have continued, often I will see it making its way across the fields as I walk up from the bus or down from the woods. And I have come to associate it with creativity, one of my favourite poems is Ted Hughes' Thought Fox, which is for my money the best poem about the writing process I know:
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 print
As some readers of this blog will be aware one important reason why I bought my Czech home is that I needed somewhere to write. It is so to speak my den, my dark hole, built into the hillside, a hill called Fox's Lair. Over the last year I have indeed started to write again, and not just this blog, and superstitiously I have partly put it down to my fox companion. Even when I do not see him, I hear him in the woods above the house, tormenting the village dogs. "Ha!" he seems to be saying, "You have sold your freedom for a bowl of meat. I have the woods, all the roots and dark places as my kingdom." And at this the village dogs go mad with vain barking.
I have put his face on my door in the form of a brass knocker, he hangs on the wall as one of a set of horse brasses, I have drawn him in oil pastels. And the more I find out about him and his place in folklore and superstition, the more I think I have found the right familiar. A month or so ago I was telling my husband about this, and how strangely although I had been writing almost continuously, my fox had kept out of sight. My husband stopped me at this point "Look, look," he said. There in broad daylight no more than a metre away from the window my fox was strolling across the grass in the direction of the neighbours' chickens.