Revolving Days by David Malouf

The poem ‘Revolving Days’ was first published in the anthology Typewriter Music in 2007, and it was republished as the title piece in the anthology Revolving Days in 2008. The speaker of this poem remembers on a period in his past when he fell in love. He considers it a “mistake / of course,” but the feeling appears to have stuck with him. He recalls not only the emotions he had but also the colours of the shirts he bought for his new life as a lover at the time. He and his lover are no longer in contact. However, he occasionally feels like he sought to feel then, like one of the new selves in the new clothes, and he feels as if he is right back there in the relationship. Time passes and days pass, yet the speaker’s “heart / [is] in [his] mouth again.” His thoughts remain unchanged, and he mulls over who she might be associated with now.

In the end, he promises her that he will not reemerge in her life and has no intention of causing her any difficulty; he asks nothing from her and does not expect to hear from her. The apostrophe and symbolism used in “Revolving Days” express the idea that moving on from a lost love can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. When the speaker addresses someone who is absent or dead as if they were present and could react, they use an apostrophe. The poet’s use of apostrophe here contributes to the speaker’s sense of desire, of yearning, for the lover who has abandoned him.

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Furthermore, the colours of the shirts he bought during this relationship—”mint green, one / pink, the third, dubbed Ivy League, tan / with deeper stripes… “—appear to represent the new life he intended to live as a lover. They’re new and bright, perhaps starched and crisp, one of his “first button-down collars.” The only colours in the poem are the vivid colours of his clothing and the “blue eyes” of his departed love. For him, life appears to be figuratively colourless just now. Symbolically, life becomes duller and less thrilling in the aftermath of this love.

Stanza – Wise Summary of Revolving Days

Stanza One 

In the first stanza of ‘Revolving Days,’ the speaker reflects on his past and recalls the year in which he “fell in love.” He just states that it occurred because he had nowhere else to go. This lighthearted start fades as he continues, “lasted and has lasted.”

The following lines employ imagery to construct a picture of the past while also eliciting an emotional response from the reader to the speaker’s personal life. He recalls what it was like to be in love. The “boom under the pocket of a shirt” spurring him on and the “old tug at the heart” in particular.In an innovative portrayal of a lover’s mentality, he discusses buying shirts and utilising them to understand himself as a “lover.” One of these was his “first button-down collar,” and it came in a variety of colours.

Stanza Two 

As the poem unfolds, it becomes evident that the speaker’s love was a little more difficult than it appeared. It “lasted,” but not in the sense one might expect. In this stanza, he considers both the past and the future.

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The past returns to greet him in the bathroom as he looks in the mirror, recalling the time they spent together and the promises they made. These, like the romance, have fallen by the wayside.
Stanza Three 

In the last stanza of ‘Revolving Days,’ the speaker uses the word “Revolving Days” to describe the condition of his heart and memory. He’s writing “this for” his ex-lover. They are no longer together. He has no idea where they are. They could be with someone new. Despite the changes, he remains the same.

Before the intended listener/the speaker’s ex-lover becomes concerned, he states that he will not appear from the past “to discomfort” them. They’re far apart,   he knows there’s a slim possibility he’ll get a response to this message in the form of a poem. 

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