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 realm ***** 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 isl*****'s leading resident attempts to preserve a v*****nished w*****ld, as do the fishermen. The hill is a lover's l*****ne - a ***** of rom*****ntic imaginings - yet it is also a graveyard of vanished hopes. Nautilus Island is a world of opposites. The poem's narrator tries to capture the spirit ***** the place; tries to live its many possibilities, ***** always fails. He cannot be what ********** not actually exist.

*****, alone in the moonlight, he watches the ***** - animals that are at once combinations of other *****, mixtures of different lifestyles and goals. ***** skunks scavenge, taking what they need from the leavings ***** others, and raising their young ***** do the same. The narrator, to survive, must ***** the *****. ***** must discover the reality of Nautilus ***** or face being absorbed into ***** wasteland ***** intangibles. Neither this nor that, here ***** there, Nautilus Island is everything and everywhere. 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 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, 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 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 *****, the "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a woman ***** wealth, lives in a "Spartan cottage" ***** another sign of incongruity. Nevertheless, the Spartans were a highly disciplined people. *****y 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 ***** of the ***** did too, on the rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. ***** son, her heir, is a b*****hop, likewise ***** guardian of a "flock" ***** ad*****ents. 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 - ano*****r example of tradition. He ***** also the one "selected" to take ***** place

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