In beginning of "Skunk Hour" (the first four stanzas to be more precise), Robert Lowell gives the sense of a Maine sea town that is slowly declining. For example, lines 4 through 6 state the following: "Her farmer / is first selectman in our village; / she's in her dotage." With the usage of the word "dotage" in line 6, it clearly suggests that the condition of Maine is in its declining years.
For a better understanding of its poor state, stanza two (7-12) presents itself as follows: Thirsting for
the hierarchy privacy
of Queen Victoria's century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.
This stanza shows how dire need of help the city of Maine is because it craves for the status of Queen Victoria, who was the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland for quite some time. Even though the poem seems to be about a city that is on its last leg, Lowell presents humor to a sad scenery by mentioning, "we've lost our summer millionaire, / who seemed to leap from an L.L Bean." In stanzas five and six, he is searching for love, but seems to not find such pleasure. His spirit is very low and sad, supported by line 33: "My ill-spirited sob in each blood cell." The world is in essence a place that delivers pains, because he judges himself by saying, "I myself is hell; / nobody's here" as if there is no God. Symbolically, nobody's here, except the skunks. They are not afraid by the emptiness of the world. They search for food to eat in the darkness; the skunks feast freely without any fright. Maybe if the human race could find its way in a corrupt world as the skunks, he/she too would not be afraid. In some strange way, Lowell is trying to say that the skunks are positive models for a better world. The poem has so many messages. Not only does Robert Lowell describe the Maine sea town that is slowly declining, but he also describes an entire social culture. Basically everything in existence will meet...