(for Elizabeth Bishop)
Nautilus Island's hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son's a bishop. Her farmer is first selectman in our village;
she's in her dotage.
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria's century
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.
The season's ill--
we've lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.
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. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town....
My mind's not right.
A car radio bleats,
"Love, O careless Love...." I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat...
I myself am hell;
only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their solves up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes' red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.
I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air--
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail.
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.
Robert Lowell's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Skunk Hour by Robert Lowell )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
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