Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tale Of The Nine-Tailed Fox

Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox

Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox
A Terza Rima
There is a fox, a kitsune cunning,
prowling the world I‘m dreaming unbound.
No hunter on earth can keep up with his running.

He hides and he smiles. He seldom is found.
His feet are soft sheathes for his adamant claws.
My fox has dark wisdom and tails that abound.

In the east he’s a seer on fleet spirit paws.
In the west he’s a trickster of convivial drifts.
In the snow he’s ice white until the world thaws.

Sometimes he’s a she, a vixen who shape shifts,      
who marries or buries her blind mortal spouse,
leaves a pup or a throat-bite and takes the man's gifts,

but always in dreams there’s a fox in my house.
Remote like all wild things from pity’s remorse,
my skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse.

My hounds all pursue him but can’t stay the course.
The red-coated Hunt fast becomes a wild rout
where dog falls on dog, and the fox beats the horse.

In his covert of flesh he hides safe from the clout,
then he grows a new tail and chews his way out.

December 2010

“...In European folklore, the figure of Reynard the Fox symbolizes trickery and deceit. Chinese folk tales tell of fox-spirits…that may have up to nine tails. In Japanese mythology the kitsune are fox-like spirits possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form…The more tails a kitsune has…the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. “  ~Wikipedia

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Image: Daji, ill-fated concubine of King Zhou of Shang, portrayed as a fox spirit, from the Hokusai Manga, courtesy wikimedia commons source link


  1. I've heard of a cat o' nine tales, but never a fox. Hadn't heard of a kitsune either.

    Interesting and educational One Shot!

    DEFINITION: the instrument a drummer with a cold plays

  2. love the myth ...love the cunning of this creature, his swiftness, his sly...always one step ahead...reads so vivid a tale..thank you...bkm

  3. I liked every single word of this. I loved that you used this form. I knew only the trickster myth (having taken a folk course some long time ago and followed up with native myths) but the others I didn't and how artfully you blended them and yourself through it. Quite a tale (tail) for winter. Your work is glorious!

  4. ha - beware of the foxes - they ARE tricky...
    i liked the many layers of your poem joy - think i could even discover more - may have to come back to re-read..

  5. Great poem. You manage the rhyme well. Especially like the word "adamant" carrying both meanings.

  6. A wonderfully vivid story in classic form.
    I too will have to come back and re-read.

  7. I enjoyed the narrative and appreciated the form, especially this stanza:
    "But always in dreams there’s a fox in my house.
    Remote like all wild things from pity’s remorse,
    My skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse."

  8. Fun play on the myth. It is one I will re-read.

  9. This is so unusual, and carries the appeal of both the mythical and the immediate. He's everywhere, this one, east west, and even swiping feminine wiles when he cares to. My favorite line is "My skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse." Yes, but who's going to send him packing? Who's about to bar the door against one who can't be caught but when he chooses to be? It's an honor, isn't it, if a dicey one. After all...he doesn't do remorse.

    Loved this.

  10. I always enjoying seeing how myth is realized through poetry. With a "shape shifter" as subject, your poem begs for more than one reading. My favorite line is "My skin is his shelter, my heart is caught mouse." Striking.

    In Native American lore, the fox is a providing animal, and teaches through his positive and negative sides.

  11. What a fascinating myth you've told us about. I really enjoyed this.

  12. Hedgewitch....
    This was so terrific on every level!
    Mythical Reality!!

  13. A tale of a trixter!! This poem brings to mind the idea of the "living myth"...you read Joseph Cambell?

    Nice one shot lady!

  14. nicely played...on several levels...as cunning as a fox itself in its deliver...

  15. Well done, it's like a child's nursery rhyme -- for adults.

  16. Thanks all. This was fun to write and started out quite differently, the more I rewrote, the more the personality of the fox asserted itself and subtly altered.
    @maureen; yes, even in the kitsune mythos, the fox spirit is frequently benign, and uses his wisdom for and not against mortals. All kinds of symbolism in the fox.
    @FB--yep, he's got my number, and I don't know who's going to get rid of him. Maybe he'll just move on...
    @lovely annie--very fond of my Joseph Campbell, Also Carl Jung.
    @Glynn--yes, singsongy. That stuff can get a bit cloying,tho, so I try not to use it too often. Glad you think it worked here, the adult nursery rhyme was indeed the effect I was shooting for.

  17. i was caught with the imagery, it was like a return to time passing but then again my reading is that, theres always that fox in us, residing in us..a tale as old as time and yet as real as now

  18. Oh! I love this! Kitsune is my favorite creature (kami) in Japanese mythology....but is it really mythology? LOL!

    Every line just sparkled! And the line: My skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse" just broke my heart for some reason.

    You have captured in multi cultural ways, the Fox...in mythology and in reality. And that you have given Him/Her the ability to transcend sexual nature is wonderful, and a new spin on Kitsune.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this portrait of a favorite being.

    Lady Nyo

  19. Well done! I am really impressed with this.

  20. The ultimate trickster. Always loved the image of the crafty little fox as a youngling...

    Great little image and theme, interesting and layered piece, with good rhyme and format. Plus, it was nice to see the bit of education at the end, too, relating the European and oriental takes on the dear foxes.

  21. The beautiful rhythm and rhyme caught me up and held me fast. The last two lines had me laughing. Really enjoyed this, hedgewitch.

  22. What a narrative. Enjoyed this piece.

  23. "There's a fox that weaves in and out of legend and into my heart" is how your terrific tale in well-crafted verse has lodged in my spirit! Wow!What lines that skid off and back up from the ground to lore. Thank you for sending the kitsune to me!

  24. This was MOST interesting.... really felt like a kid reading a take... eyes wide open... oohing and aahing!
    Loved the pace of this poem, hedgewitch...
    It was a DELIGHT to read!!!!
    And the rhyme scheme... totally dug it!

  25. Lovely poem! I did not know about the different meanings of the
    Fox. I loved how you tied together several cultures into your poem. A great addition, thank you for sharing!

  26. This was so nice, and informative too. Thanks. I love that you can use folklore as a prompt for your lovely poetry.

  27. Well researched and thought out, impressive! I love the fact that we as poets can revive or sustain myths. Myths have great lessons in them and after all, what is society if it isn't a myth. This poem, for me, reaches into the depths of what poetry is or can be. We have a powerful tool in our hands and I think you have done Justice to this art form, thank you.

  28. There seems a polished effortless to this poem. "My skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse." What a line! Many great lines, like the couplet at the end too. Reads well in light of myth and understanding certain relationships. Cheers

  29. I loved reading this again and again. Thank you for sharing!

  30. I've known of a cat's nine-lives, but this is new info for me on the fox. Love how you have shared the info in rhyme. Well done.

  31. This is a great offering. Myths get right to us and the rhyme is so smoothly written.

  32. Interesting that the fox is a trickster, as is the coyote in Native American lore. Watch out when they show up. Surely a lesson to be learned.

    My one shot: http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/on-reading-a-poem-for-poetry-potluck-and-monday-morning-writing-prompt/

  33. Kudos on pulling of a fine Terza Rima! And I like your theme/content... enjoy your exploration of myth/folklore (something I'd like to do more of actually). The invocation of kitsune is a nice touch.

    Your lines all scan four, but one or two tripped me up a bit and I had to reread once or twice. They are ones that probably could do with some smoothing out, perhaps losing a syllable... to scan four they need to be spoken in a very particular way.

    But never mind that, great piece! No mean feat writing a Terza

    Warmest Salad

    Luke @ WordSalad

  34. Thanks Luke. I tried very hard for an even scan, but I know there were a few lines that have an extra unstressed beat that throws it off a bit, and a force or two, like oracle--you almost have to say or-kull. But at least I think I'm making progress. (I wrote this one down with bolded stresses.)Thanks for taking the time to give me your opinion on it. It's always greatly appreciated.

  35. "But always in dreams there's a fox in my house".......this is an exceptionally wonderful poem. Rhythm and flow are wonderful, the story it tells is marvellous. A rich read, one leaps like the fox from line to line.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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