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

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

The real Nautilus ***** is a small island *****f 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 from other parts ***** the country. Still, ***** "hermit" of Nautilus Island recalls another famous ***** - the marvelous submar*****e of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. Nemo's Nautilus was a fantasy, a creation of ***** imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities f***** exploring the unknown depths ***** the sea. ***** Nautilus 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 *****, the "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a wom*****n of wealth, lives in a "Sp*****rtan cottage" - another sign ***** 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 ***** the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above the sea" - yes, no doubt ***** those of her ancestors did, and those of the ***** ***** *****, on the rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. ***** son, ***** heir, is a bishop, likewise the guardian of a "flock" of adherents. The farmer on her estate is first 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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