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-cheek meaning. The title is just another example of that wordplay. "Skunk Hour" is a play on "witching hour" – literally midnight, but thought to be the time when witches are active, doing all their creepy, witchy stuff like boiling frogs and casting spells. So, "Skunk Hour" is the time of night when the town is empty except for the skunks, and it's spooky and the speaker is feeling ill at ease.