Quilting - Foxes in the Poetry of Lucille Clifton Essay

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Quilting - Foxes in the Poetry of Lucille Clifton

In 1942 Virginia Woolf read a paper to the Women’s Service League about "The Angel in the House." For Woolf, this "Angel" represented the voice in the back of the mind of a woman that was saying, "Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own" (1346). During Woolf’s time a woman was not supposed to write critically. Rather, a woman was supposed to "be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of her sex." Woolf writes of the need to "kill" this angel. She says, "Had I not killed her, she would have killed me" (1346). Thankfully today it is no longer considered improper for a woman to write critically and truthfully, but Lucille Clifton
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She only "sat till morning, waiting" (9). But the speaker sees herself in this fox or recognizes a part to the fox inside of her. When she looks "through the glass" (9) she is seeing her own reflection as the fox. What the speaker is afraid of is letting this fox out of her, because of "the terrible stories she could tell" (9). She is not afraid of the fox’s "terrible stories." She is afraid of her own "terrible stories" that she can tell. This fox represents the fear the poet is feeling about what she has and wants to say. The poem suggests that while an artist may sometimes have this fear of what she is going to write, she still writes it. This poem is the first in Clifton’s collection titled The Terrible Stories. And Clifton does write "terrible stories." She writes about subjects such as cancer, racism, and death. When reading poetry it is important to keep the poet and the speaker separate. However, this poem and others in this book seem very personal, and it is not hard to imagine Clifton as the speaker.

Fear is again represented by a fox in the poem "coming of fox":

one evening i return to a red fox haunched by my door. i am afraid although she knows no enemy comes here. next night again then next then next she sits in her safe shadow silent as my skin bleeds into long bright flags of fur. (Terrible 14)

"I am afraid" the speaker says, when "one evening I return / to a red fox / haunched by my door." The fox is a

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