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 *****," 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 *****to a re*****lm ***** apparent reality. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing ***** qu*****e real or tangible but the skunks themselves and the notions of what should occur. The island's leading resident attempts to preserve a v*****nished w*****ld, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's l*****ne - a pl*****ce of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a graveyard of van*****hed hopes. ***** Island is a world of opposites. The poem's narrator tries to capture the spirit of the place; tries to live its many possibilities, but always fails. He cannot be ***** *****es not actually exist.

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

The real Nautilus ***** ***** a sm*****ll island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical *****ity is that ***** most Maine *****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 fantasy, a creation of ***** imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities f***** exploring the unknown depths of the sea. Lowell's Nautilus also perm***** the reader to explore the realms ***** *****. It, too, is a vessel into the unknown and the often improbable. The first line also introduces the Island's chief *****, the "heiress" of ***** second line. The heiress, a wom*****n of wealth, lives in a "Sp*****rtan cottage" - another sign of incongruity. Nevertheless, the Spartans were a highly disciplined people. They org*****nized 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 ***** ***** too, on the rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. Her son, her heir, is a bishop, likewise ***** guardian of a "flock" ***** adherents. The farmer on her estate is ***** selectman in the narrator's village. Th***** places him in a position of authority. Selectman is an old New England title for a town councilor - another example of tradition. He ***** also the one "selected" to take the place


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