A detailed analysis of the themes, structure, and symbolism of Lowell’s brilliant poem, “Skunk Hour.” The four-page student handout has as its last section an activity dealing with the rudiments of rhyme (perfect, slant, internal, and rhyme scheme). After these terms are defined, your students will apply them to “Skunk Hour,” in the process discovering how rhyme reinforces Lowell’s themes in the poem. Since it is the last section of the handout, it can be easily omitted if you choose not to have your pupils work with rhyme.
The student handout section, which has blanks which your students can fill in, is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework. An Answer Key is provided on a separate sheet.
Not as part of the student handout, I have appended three pages of line-by-line commentary on “Skunk Hour.” Not only does it quote from Lowell’s own comments on the poem, but it also deals with such areas as the personal background, allusions, difficult vocabulary, a fuller discussion of the theme, structure, and the use of rhyme as well as other stylistic devices in “Skunk Hour.” You may find a few points to incorporate into your class’s discussion of the poem.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.