Killing time or everything thing else! What will work?
In reading Robert Lowell's poems you can see the evidence of his past, his often absent father and unassertive mother and was born in "this planned /Babel of Boston where our money talks" often shows his candor and hostility. The fact that many of these poets have a manic depressant condition, such as Lowell did, was very frightening. To think that he and others took shock treatment to try to control these unhealthy behaviors was disturbing as well. The poem The Drinker seems to be, "The man is killing time-there's nothing else." That even drinking cannot make the pain that this man is feeling go away, "No help now from the fifth of Bourbon". It seems no matter what time of distraction he thinks to use it cannot "kill time" and his mind will not move past this hour that has burdened him. This seemed to confuse me about the talk of the whale, but the reference to the "barbed hooks fester. The lines snap tight", all this seems to show that no matter how deep you try to swim in drowning your sorrows you cannot escape them. As the woman's absence has caused too much pain and the temptations have taken over and he cannot get free of them, no matter how much or what he tries to kill time with.