Skunk Hour Introduction. Thirsting for the hierarchie privacy The tone is one of mild desperation at this stage in the poem, the heiress thirsting for a return to the glorious days of old Victoria, when the great and good ruled supreme and everyone knew their place. Categories . Skunk Hour By Robert Lowell (For Elizabeth Bishop) Nautilus Island's hermit heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage; her sheep still graze above the sea. The two were great friends. Views: 1207 “The Skunk” by Seamus Heaney is a poem that is set in the California darkness and the protagonist is temporarily exiled from his wife, and as he write love letters to her a skunk passes by and he is reminded of the qualities of his wife. Thus, we see that the theme of the poem is the quest of the speaker, his journey through failure to success. John R. Reed "Skunk Hour" is important not only because it is a good poem but also because it is a firm acceptance of the things of this world in all their ambiguous excellence. The speaker has moved from depression to the spiritual rebirth of his natural energies, from a decadent world to individual revitalization. Composed of eight six-line stanzas, “Skunk Hour” is one in a series of confessional poems that characterized Lowell’s verse from the 1950s. Only the realization and use of these potentials for revitalization of the inner energy will rescue modern man from his suicidal frustration. Skunk Hour is a free verse poem of eight sestets (six line stanzas), that's forty eight lines in total. However they start to veer away from each other in their analysis of stanza five where there is an obvious shift in tone and direction. The poem focuses initially on several prominent inhabitants of Nautilus Island, Maine; from the hermit heiress to the gay decorator. In it, the poet reveals his personal secret confesses that he is living meaninglessly and suffering from the loss of faith, courage and even desire for life. "...we’ve lost our summer millionaire, who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean catalogue." She lives in a small house, buys up all the ugly houses across from her and tears them down. The plot thickens as a third character is presented, this time a poor, homosexual decorator (fairy is a derogatory term for a gay person) who uses orange to liven up his shop and who would prefer being married to working for little money. The skunks’ passion or strong desire for life, their fertility and naturalness and their originality makes the speaker feel that he doesn’t have these powers and qualities of living a meaningful life. The Styx from Greek mythology, associated with the final crossing of the soul? There is no set rhyme scheme but there are interesting end rhymes and some internal rhymes that help solidify the whole, adding a seam of sense/sound. . hull to hull - the speaker sees the cars as boats, next to one another as if on a river. The scene is set by first introducing the old and frail heiress of the island who is a stickler for tradition, a conservative, fading aristocrat landowner with a bishop for a son and ruins for the future. His mind was getting more and more disordered. Each part is in two stanzas. Solitude, trivialization, psychic problem, drug, and moral corruption are the causes. American culture was changing rapidly and dynamically in those postwar years, and Lowell—due in part to his encounters with Allen Ginsberg and Beat culture—was beginning to feel that his work was archaic and staid. Oh to break loose, like the chinook salmon jumping and falling back, (…) to clear the top on the last try, alive enough to spawn and die. These sounds, a variation on a theme of ill, are half-rhymes and produce an echo that keeps the reader in touch with the voice of the speaker, alive in a season that is itself ill. He realizes by looking at the simple skunk that he was not having the fertile mind, spirit and body to bring up the energies to live actively. Skunk hour poetry analysis essay. Again, rhyme cannot be ignored but is used unusually by the poet. The poem is essentially obscure like the thought and express of a mental patient. Poetry analysis: Skunk Hour, by Robert Lowell In beginning of “Skunk Hour” (the first four stanzas to be more precise), Robert Lowell gives the sense of a Maine sea town that is slowly declining. Skunk Hour, poem by Robert Lowell, published in Life Studies (1959). From "On Skunk Hour," in Robert Lowell: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Modern life’s corrupting influences have led men to express frustration and despair: “I myself am hell”. BachelorandMaster, 17 Nov. 2013, Or is he lonely only in his mind, despite others being near. Published by Emma Watson on October 18, 2019. His spirit cries. Using words like lost, leap, and auctioned off all point to a person permanently not returning, his boat now belonging to locals who will put it to better use. Skunk Hour Analysis 1108 Words | 5 Pages Confessional poet Robert Lowell expresses his personal trauma in his poem Skunk Hour through his syntax, multiple themes, and his gothic tone. Her son's a bishop. The poet uses full end rhyme - for/shore - all/fall - to continue this theme of ongoing tradition but note the contrasting complicated and simple shortened lines of iambic and especially dactylic rhythms which fall off : the voice pitched higher on the stress, then lower on the unstressed. That process is also suggested by the pattern of the poem that moves from a dying old human mother who is failing to maintain her values to a young animal mother which is able to live so fully and actively. ...Poetry analysis: Skunk Hour, by Robert Lowell In beginning of "Skunk Hour" (the first four stanzas to be more precise), Robert Lowell gives the sense of a Maine sea town that is slowly declining. It could be blood, it could be the sheen grass takes on at a certain time of year, which is known as fox stain. Skunk Hour by Robert Lowell: Summary and Critical Analysis. Carefully placed punctuation helps moderate pace. . . Lights turned down, they lay together, hull to hull, where the graveyard shelves on the town. Robert Lowell was a controversial figure in his lifetime. One dark night is taken from one of the poems of St John of the Cross, a 16th century Spanish saint,mystic and poet who wrote his Stanzas of the Soul whilst in prison. .” I hear my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell, as if my hand were at its throat. It is modeled on “ The Armadillo,” a poem by Elizabeth Bishop; both poets dedicated their respective poems to each other. Michael Toolan's linguistically oriented stylistic analysis of "Skunk Hour" shares none of my phonological concerns. While Bishop comments on her friend Lowell’s rage against humanity’s cruelty, Lowell writes of Bishop’s isolation and inner darkness, yet also resilience to persevere. Jackson Barry's "Robert Lowell: The Poet as Sign" contends that "in Lowell we find a very complex sign function where a physical signifier, the figure chosen, stands for a cluster of meanings attributed to but not inherent in the actual person" (180). In the early 1950s, Robert Lowell was a successful, even famous poet, yet was writing few poems. Robert Lowell famously wrote “Skunk Hour” for Elizabeth Bishop, who just as famously had written “The Armadillo” for him. There is a “hermit heiress.” Her son is a bishop and her farmer is the first selectman of the town. Categories . Skunk Hour. At this point the speaker feels completely alone, even though he's close to the love-cars? "Skunk Hour by Robert Lowell: Summary and Critical Analysis." The first part presents an old woman in a lonely island trying to maintain her old ways by buying cultural antiques. | The title points to the disgusting phase of life that the poet was living when he had lost the courage, desire and purpose of living life. But she fails. The speaker is revealed, at last, having 'hidden' behind the first four stanzas, but note the wording of the second line: Somehow the car is driving itself up that hill, with the speaker absent, as if there's no personal responsibility for the action. Note the first and last lines rhyme fully - ill/hill - and seem to top and tail the stanza in a rather neat but distant fashion. Brief descriptions set the scene until the main protagonist, the sad, lonely speaker, begins his rather pathetic confession. The third part of the poem shows how the persona wanders in intense agony and spiritual crisis. The speaker mentions how a “summer millionaire” has gone bankrupt and auctioned his yacht. Her farmer is first selectman in our village;she’s in her dotage. Skunk Hour Meanings Of Certain Words and Phrases. In the last two stanzas, we find the speaker looking at a skunk and its kittens fearlessly coming to a city street and eating garbage. And now our fairy decorator brightens his shop for fall; his fishnet’s filled with orange cork, orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl; there is no money in his work, he’d rather marry.One dark night, my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull;I watched for love-cars . Illness Lowell suffered from manic depression and was hospitalized many times throughout his adult life for this mental illness. Privacy and Cookie Policy He echoes the sayings of Saint John, King Lear and Satan, all of which express emotional crisis. Brief descriptions set the scene until the main protagonist, the sad, lonely speaker, begins his rather … How low can you get? But when he himself reached the climax of frustration and depression, he one day, fortunately, learn the right lesson by looking at a skunk that is still living with full zeal an active and meaningful life, in its original and natural way. Analysis In "Skunk Hour," Robert Lowell begins by describing a strange, hermit woman. Skunk Hour Summary. The poem focuses initially on several prominent inhabitants of Nautilus Island, Maine; from the hermit heiress to the gay decorator. The speaker is self-reflecting. The fox stain is ambiguous. The second part begins with “the season is ill”, an expression of frustration. Wedlock would seem to be a way out of a life destined for a peculiar kind of sad, island loneliness, although at the time of writing, 1957, marriage for gay couples would have been out the question. Published by Deadline Essay on February 7, 2020. The Poem “Skunk Hour” is written in free verse, but with a formal pattern of eight six-line stanzas (sestets) with a loosely regular rhyme scheme. Skunk Hour is a confessional poem. But the observation of the shifting context helps us generalize about the development and meaning. Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. He's falling apart, just like the island. Note the way the poet uses end half-rhyme (slant or near or imperfect rhyme) in cottage/village/dotage which suggests that things are not making full sense, there is little harmony.