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


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Literature

***** 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 to d*****appear into a re*****lm ***** apparent reality. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is quite real or tangible but the skunks themselves and the notions of what should occur. The isl*****'s leading resident attempts to preserve a vanished w*****ld, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's lane - a pl*****ce of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a gr*****veyard of van*****hed hopes. ***** Island is a world of opposites. The poem's narra*****r tries to capture the spirit of ***** place; tries to live its many possibilities, but always fails. He cannot be ***** ********** not actually exist.

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

The real Nautilus Island ***** a small island *****f the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical reality is that ***** 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, 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 cre*****tion of ***** imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities for exploring the unknown depths ***** the sea. ***** ***** also permits the reader to explore the realms of imagination. It, too, is a vessel into the unknown *****nd the often improbable. The first line also introduces ***** Island's chief resident, the "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a woman of 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 ***** defending ***** 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 ***** of the Spartans ***** *****, on ***** rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. ***** son, her heir, is a bishop, likewise ***** guardian of a "flock" ***** adherents. The farmer on her estate is first selectman in the narrator's village. This places him in a position of authority. Selectman is an old New England title for a town councilor - ***** example of tradition. He ***** also ***** one "selected" to take the place

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