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 location where dreams of reality seem to d*****appear *****to a re*****lm ***** apparent reality. Nothing is as it *****s. Nothing is 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 vanished world, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's l*****ne - a ***** of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a gr*****veyard ***** van*****hed hopes. ***** Island is a ***** of opposites. The poem's narrator tries to capture the spirit of ***** place; tries to live its many possibilities, but always fails. He cannot be what ********** not actually exist.

*****, alone in the moonlight, he watches the ***** - animals that are at once combinations 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 *****, to survive, must do the *****. ***** must discover the reality of Nautilus Island or face being absorbed into ***** wasteland of intangibles. Neither this nor that, here nor t*****, Nau*****ilus ***** is everything and every*****. It is a hope built upon the past.

The real Nautilus Island is a small island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical reality is that of most Ma*****e *****lets - a small rocky patch set in ***** 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 submarine of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. Nemo's Nautilus was a fantasy, a cre*****tion of ***** imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities for exploring the unknown depths ***** the sea. Lowell's ***** also permits the reader to explore the realms of imagination. It, too, is a vessel into the ***** and the often improbable. The first line also introduces ***** Island's chief resident, the "heiress" of ***** 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. *****y organized their society around the dream ***** defending their homeland against all outside forces, much as does the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above ***** sea" - yes, no doubt as those of her ancestors did, and ***** of the Spartans ***** *****, on the rocky cliff tops of the Peloponnesus. Her son, her heir, is a b*****hop, likewise the guardian of a "flock" of 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 - ***** example of tradition. He ***** ***** ***** one "selected" to take the place


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