In the ‘The Union Dead,’ the poem takes a nostalgic approach in the spirit of saying things ought to have been better after all the sacrifices. It begins with an observation of the deserted Boston Aquarium which the poet had visited as a child. The ruins are symbols of lost childhood and of the decay of Boston, which currently is undergoing reconstruction and action that is disturbing landmarks such as the statue of Colonel Shaw Statehouse which makes the poet to flash back on Shaw, the son to an abolitionist who was the first regime for black during the Civil War. Shaw met his death while in action, and his statue has remained as a monument to his heroic ideals which are jeopardized at present including the statue which is often shaken by the impacts of urban renewal.
Sights of the black children going to segregated schools highlight how the foundation ideals the likes of Shaw died for were forgotten after the Civil War. This piece of Lowell’s work is a brilliant way of linking public disturbance to private turmoil. The lost childhood part depicts the lost American ideals which are married together in the last lines to showcase the poem’s private and public mirror.
On the other hand ‘Skunk Hour’ though a bit similar to the ‘The Union Dead’ in that they are both visualizing the past versus the present. This poem takes a ruse tone describing beyond the scenery and the casual approach to the arrangements of nature and decay. He takes a firm acceptance of the things and their ambiguity. Though surrounded with hopelessness the skunks have found a way to adapt and grow in the hope a lesson that man can also adopt and that man’s problems are human made and most importantly they can be altered by man.