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

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Robert Lowell's "The Skunk Hour"

Robert Lowell's poem, "***** Skunk *****," 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 ***** d*****appear into a re*****lm of apparent reality. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing ***** quite real or tangible but the skunks themselves ***** the notions of what should occur. The island's leading resident attempts to preserve a v*****nished world, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's l*****ne - a ***** of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a graveyard ***** vanished hopes. ***** Island is a ***** of opposites. The poem's n*****rra*****r tries to capture the spirit of the place; tries ***** live its many possibilities, but always fails. He cannot be ***** does not actually exist.

*****, alone in the moonlight, he watches the skunks - animals that are at once combinations ***** other *****, mixtures of different lifestyles and goals. The skunks scavenge, taking what they need from the leavings of others, and raising their young to do the same. The narrator, to survive, must ***** the same. He must discover the reality of Nautilus ***** or face *****ing 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 Island ***** a small island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical reality is that ***** most Ma*****e *****lets - a small rocky patch set in ***** cold Atlantic swells, home perhaps to fisher folk or vacationers from other parts of the country. Still, the "hermit" of Nautilus Island recalls another famous Nautilus - the marvelous submar*****e of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. *****'s Nautilus was a f*****ntasy, a creation ***** ***** imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities for exploring the unknown depths of the sea. Lowell's Nautilus also permits the reader to explore the realms ***** imagination. It, too, is a vessel into the unknown and the often improbable. The first line also introduces ***** Island's chief *****, the "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a woman ***** wealth, lives in a "Sp*****rtan cottage" ***** another sign of incongruity. Nevertheless, the Spartans were a highly disciplined people. They organized their society around the dream of defending ***** homeland against all outside forces, much as does the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above ***** *****" - yes, no doubt ***** those of her ancestors did, and those of the Spartans ***** too, on the rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. Her son, her heir, is a bishop, likewise the guardian of a "flock" of adherents. The farmer on her estate is ***** selectman in ***** narrator's village. This places him in a position of authority. Selectman is an old New England title for a town councilor - another example of tradition. He is also the one "selected" to take ***** place


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