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Skunk Hour

Skunk Hour

by Robert Lowell

Stanza 6 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 31-33

A car radio bleats,
'Love, O careless Love . . . .' I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,

  • The speaker overhears a love song playing from one of the cars as he drives by.
  • It causes him to feel terrible – his "ill-spirit" reminds us of the line where he declares, "my mind's not right."
  • So the speaker's saying (though he's using a little poetic license) that he can hear his spirit crying even in his blood!

Lines 34-35

as if my hand were at its throat ....
I myself am hell,

  • The "its" refers to the soul. So the soul cries as if it were being choked by the speaker. It's a strange image, but a clearly suicidal one.
  • Instead of being in hell, the speaker declares, "I myself am hell" – he's the cause of his own agony.
  • The speaker is clearly mentally ill – his madness is making him all the worse. It's a vicious cycle.

Line 36

nobody's here

  • This is an interesting shift. Is "here" referring to the private hell the speaker is in? Or is it the actual hill? Perhaps it's both.
  • At this point in the poem, we have our interest scattered all over the place – the heiress, the millionaire, the shop owner, the town itself, the speaker. It's interesting to wonder how this might all end up.

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