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


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Literature

Robert Lowell's "The Skunk Hour"

Robert Lowell's poem, "The 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 to disappear 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 l*****ne - a ***** of romantic imaginings - yet it is also a graveyard of vanished hopes. Nautilus Island is a world ***** opposites. The poem's narrator tries to capture the spirit of ***** place; tries to live its many possibilities, ***** always fails. He cannot be ***** *****es not actually exist.

*****, alone in the moonlight, he watches the ***** - animals that are at once combinations of other *****, mixtures ***** different lifestyles and goals. The skunks scavenge, taking what they need from the leavings of others, and raising their young to do the same. The narrator, to survive, must do the *****. ***** must discover the ***** of Nautilus Island or face *****ing absorbed into its wasteland ***** intangibles. Neither this nor that, here nor t*****, Nautilus ***** 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 ***** most Ma*****e *****lets - a small rocky patch set in ***** cold Atlantic swells, home perhaps to fisher folk or vacationers from other parts of the country. Still, the "hermit" of Nautilus ***** recalls another famous Nautilus - the marvelous submarine of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo. Nemo's Nautilus was a fantasy, a cre*****tion ***** Verne's imagination. It possessed wondrous capacities f***** exploring the unknown depths of the sea. ***** ***** also perm***** the reader to explore the realms of *****. It, too, is a vessel into the ***** and the often improbable. The first line also introduces the Island's chief *****, the "heiress" of the second line. The heiress, a wom*****n of wealth, lives in a "Spartan cottage" - another sign ***** incongruity. Nevertheless, the Spartans were a highly disciplined people. ********** org*****nized their society around the dream of defending ***** homeland against all outside forces, much as does the heiress. "Her sheep still graze above ***** *****" - yes, no doubt as those of her ancestors did, and ***** of the ***** ***** *****, on the rocky cliff tops of the Pelop*****nesus. ***** son, ***** heir, is a bishop, likewise the guardian of a "flock" ***** adherents. The farmer on her estate is first selectman in ***** 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 ***** place

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