I used this poem with students to explain the source of poetic inspiration. It is probably already there and sneaks out to find literary life and expression. Ted Hughes described the creative process of poetry writing as an animal quietly emerging and appearing.
I will sit, close my eyes, and write each day in my journal. Perhaps, a thought-fox will creep out of the shrubbery of imagination. Sabbath is a good time to start.
I imagine this midnight movement’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 stars:
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 moment, that now
And again now, and now, and now
Sets neat prints into the snow,
Between trees, and wearily 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.