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 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 loc*****tion where dreams of reality seem ***** disappear *****to a realm of apparent reality. Nothing is as it *****s. Nothing ***** qu*****e real or tangible but the skunks themselves ***** the notions ***** 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 pl*****ce of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a gr*****veyard ***** vanished hopes. Nautilus Island is a ***** of opposites. The poem's narra*****r tries to capture the spirit of the place; tries to live its many possibilities, but always fails. He cannot be what does not actually exist.

So, alone in the moonlight, he watches the ***** - animals that are at once comb*****ations ***** other *****, mixtures of different lifestyles and goals. The skunks scavenge, taking what they need from the leavings ***** others, and raising their young to do the same. The narrator, to survive, must do the same. ***** must discover the reality of Nautilus ***** or face *****ing absorbed into its wasteland ***** intangibles. Neither this nor that, here ***** there, Nautilus Island is everything and every*****. It is a hope built upon the past.

The real Nautilus Island ***** a sm*****ll island off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay. Its geographical *****ity 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, the "hermit" of Nautilus Island recalls another famous Nautilus ***** the marvelous submarine of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. *****'s Nautilus was a f*****ntasy, a cre*****tion ***** Verne's imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities for exploring the unknown depths of the sea. ***** ***** also perm***** the reader to explore the realms ***** 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 "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 their homeland against all outside forces, much as ***** the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above the *****" - yes, no *****ubt ***** those of her ancestors did, and ***** of the ***** did too, on ***** rocky cliff tops of the Peloponnesus. 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. This places him in a position of authority. Selectman is an old New England title for a town councilor - anot***** example of tradition. He ***** also ***** one "selected" to take the place


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