Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” is a lyric poem that addresses nature. I found that the alternating rhyme patterns make the poem more readable and less “singable” or lyrical. I did not feel like I was reading a childish poem, rather a short story about a special place in one’s life that was dying, much like the writer. Lowell paints a vivid picture or a sea town that is declining in this poem. This once beautiful and profitable place is now in its decline.
Lowell describes the scenery of the town and then contrasts that with its recent failures “And now our fairy decorator brightens his shop for fall;” “there is no money in his work.” The writer describes a love for what once was and what fails to be now, “I myself an in hell; nobody’s here –” the scenery is dying along with the livelihood of those who once flourished in this place. The presence of the scavenging skunks confirms that there is little left to salvage from this place.The writer’s tone is very somber. There is a realization in his tone that places once full of memories die, like people.
I liked the vivid imagery, but disliked the ending. I had trouble finding real meaning in the abrupt and ambiguous ending, “She jabs her wedge-head in a cup of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail, and will not scare.”