Essay - Literature Robert Lowell's 'The Skunk Hour' Robert Lowell's Poem, 'The...

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***** Lowell's "The Skunk Hour"

Robert Lowell's poem, "***** Skunk Hour," written in 1959, captures a time when two different worlds appear to collide. Nautilus Island is a place of both past and present, a loc*****tion where dreams of reality seem ***** disappear *****to a re*****lm of apparent reality. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is qu*****e real or tangible but the skunks themselves and the notions ***** what should occur. The isl*****'s leading resident attempts to preserve a v*****nished world, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's lane - a pl*****ce of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a gr*****veyard ***** vanished hopes. ***** Island is a ***** of opposites. The poem's n*****rra*****r tries to capture the spirit ***** ***** place; tries ***** live its many possibilities, ***** always fails. He cannot be ***** *****es not actually exist.

So, alone in the moonlight, he watches the skunks - animals that are at once comb*****ations of other animals, mixtures of different lifestyles and goals. ***** skunks scavenge, taking what they need from the leavings ***** others, and raising their young to do the same. The narrator, to survive, must ***** the *****. ***** must discover the reality of Nautilus Island or face being absorbed into ***** wasteland of intangibles. Nei*****r this nor that, here ***** there, Nautilus Island is everything and everywhere. It is a hope built upon the past.

The real Nautilus ***** is a small island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical *****ity is that of most Ma*****e islets - a small rocky patch set in the cold Atlantic swells, home perhaps to fisher folk or vacationers ***** other parts of the country. Still, ***** "hermit" of Nautilus Island recalls another famous ***** ***** the marvelous submar*****e of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. *****'s Nautilus was a f*****ntasy, a cre*****tion of Verne's imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities f***** exploring the unknown depths of the sea. Lowell's ***** also permits the reader to explore the realms of imagination. It, too, is a vessel into the unknown and the often improbable. The first line also introduces the Island's chief *****, ***** "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a wom*****n ***** wealth, lives in a "Spartan cottage" - another sign of incongruity. Nevertheless, the Spartans were a highly disciplined people. They org*****nized their society around the dream of defending their homeland against all outside forces, much as does the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above the sea" - yes, no doubt ***** those of her ancestors did, and those of the Spartans did too, on ***** rocky cliff tops of the Peloponnesus. Her son, her heir, is a b*****hop, likewise the guardian of a "flock" ***** adherents. The farmer on her estate is ***** selectman in the *****'s village. Th***** places him in a position of authority. Selectman is an old New England title for a town councilor - anot***** example of tradition. He ***** ***** ***** one "selected" to take the place


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