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Skunk Hour
Skunk Hour
by Robert Lowell

Skunk Hour Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Free VerseThis poem seems to be formally organized, but it's really all over the place. At first read, you see that the stanzas are all the same length (six lines apiece) and that there's definitel...

Speaker

The speaker is someone who is mentally ill. He seems sad and lonely, as well as bitter (note the tone he uses when describing the townspeople) and restless (driving around all night, standing on hi...

Setting

"Skunk Hour" is set on an island off the coast of Maine. In the first part of the poem, the speaker shows us the major players of the community, and it seems to take place during the daytime hours....

Sound Check

This poem is a mouthful! The first two lines are hard to say without sounding like you have a mouth packed with marbles. There's a lot going on in many of these lines – some are super long an...

What's Up With the Title?

Robert Lowell has plenty of fun throughout this poem toying around with double meanings and puns. When he writes one thing, be ready for the wink wink, nudge nudge that leads you to the tongue-in-c...

Calling Card

The ZigzagLowell is known for including tons of stuff in his poems. They often seem to start out with a narrative style (telling a story), then a wrench gets thrown into the system – he start...

Tough-O-Meter

(5) Tree LineAt first read "Skunk Hour" can be a little bit of a head scratcher. Understanding what the skunks have to do with anything can be super frustrating. But once you start to break it down...

Brain Snacks

Lowell seriously objected to World War II and was imprisoned for several months in Connecticut on account of his protesting. He also spoke out against the Vietnam War, and was a civil rights activi...

Sex Rating

PG-13There's a tongue-in-cheek mention of homosexuality near the beginning of the poem, and then we get the "love cars" in the next stanza. Nothing actually happens, but there are moments of potent...

Shout Outs

Historical ReferencesQueen Victoria (line 9)Pop Cultural ReferencesL.L. Bean (line 15)Tudor Ford (line 26)"Careless Love," a traditional song (line 32)

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