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Revolving Days Questions and Answers

Revolving Days Questions and Answers

Revolving Days Questions and Answers

 

A CRITICAL EVALUATION [BROAD TYPE QUESTIONS: 10/15 MARKS]

1. The Theme

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[Q. Discuss the major themes presented in the poem ‘Revolving Days’.]

‘Revolving Days’ is the first of a series of “late” books of poetry whose first, Typewriter Music, published in 2007 had been Malouf’s first book of poetry for 27 years. Malouf’s poetry has been a complex, evolving and experimental thing since his contribution to Four Poets in 1962, but has always involved an examination of the self, its history and growth, its connections to the outer world through the complementary modes of exploration and receptivity, its connections to the body, and the nature of creativity itself. These themes are present in the variegated landscape of Malouf’s creativity (it includes prose fiction, lectures, essays and libretti) but within the work as a whole these three books have a special place.

The poems are less “experimental” than the poems of the middle period, such as those of First Things Last, they are smaller and, on the surface, often less ambitious. But they are easily underestimated and are, at heart, immensely compressed and complex, inviting and coaxing the reader into a poetic world that looks encouragingly straightforward, even anecdotal, on the surface but which proves to be fascinatingly complex and challenging. And the invitations are part of the style, part of Malouf’s canny invocation of shared experience marked by his use of that potent pronoun, “we”.

The text being read would only be acting as a record of the events much as an actual memory of them spanned a few moments and in no way contradicted that fact that the events being remembered spanned years. I live equally in both places or spheres of existence, that is, in my experiencing the events in actuality, in re-living them in memory or as if they were events in a poem and in the conversation we just had where we took turns reciting that poem. I feel it is that kind of experience to which Malouf is drawing our attention in the title poem ‘Revolving Days’:

We never write. But sometimes, knotting my tie at a mirror, one of those selves I had expected steps into the room. In the next room you are waiting (we have not yet taken back the life we promised to pour into each other’s mouths forever and for ever) while I choose between changes to surprise you. Revolving days. My heart In my mouth again, I’m writing this for you, wherever

you are, whoever is staring into your blue eyes. It is me, I’m still here.

In other words, Malouf seems to be saying this to me. I find myself surrounded by things and events where I didn’t participate in the existence or identification of those things or in the activities that made up those events when they first made themselves available to me. And yet I am brought into the actions that identify those things and comprise those events. Perhaps this is because conceptualising is not just a concept of the mind; that is, the conceptualising we attribute to the mind. From here on, every mechanism works in and out so that as a reader I am transformed in the most minute degrees as my memories of myself appear to be; the whole world, extending me with themselves until all possible transformations are complete by will and imagination.

In ‘Revolving Days’ by David Malouf, the speaker takes a look at his past relationship and the evolution of his role as “lover”. In ‘Revolving Days’ Malouf engages with themes that include love, memory, and transformation (or lack thereof). The speaker spends the bulk of this poem describing a love he used to have and the way that that love changed him. But since, he hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the person he used to be when he was with his ex-lover, for better or for worse.

But, he knows that she has changed. She’s somewhere else, (where exactly he doesn’t know) and he figures that she’s moved on to be with someone else. His memories of the past are quite strong, so much so that he’s able to depict moments from his love affair with clarity and poignant (if someone reserved) emotion.

2. The Significance of the Title

[Q. What is the meaning of the title ‘Revolving Days’? Discuss briefly the justification.]

David Malouf’s poem “Revolving Days” is the title poem for one of his numerous books of poetry. In the poem, he is drawn back in time by the memories of a past love. Although he says that falling in love was a mistake, the love has endured within him. He seems to transcend time when he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He feels like his love is in the other room and he is deciding which self he is going to present. He remembers three shirts he purchased during that time period which represent the changes that he was making in himself. He was experimenting with his identity.

In reality, time has passed; his lover is far away. This semblance of moving in and out of reality is reflected in the title, “Revolving Days.” In the end, Malouf’s words reassure his past love that although the memories have conjured up physical emotions, there will be no intrusion into present life. He does not expect anything in return, he says. “And no, at this distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply.” After reading the poem it seems as though the speaker who has lost his beloved

is no longer. Probably the lady love has left him and the speaker is writing a poem about his past love for his lady love. There are some important references in the poem that give us an idea about what exactly is going on inside the mind of the speaker.m

First of all, there is a phrase in which the speaker says that he ‘fell in love’ but he also indicates that it was a mistake’. But the feeling lasted just like he has lasted. He also remembers the colour of the shirts that he bought. He says in one of the later lines that he is writing this for you’ that is his beloved.

Then he goes on to say that wherever you are, ‘whoever is staring into your blue eyes’, it is only him. But he assures her that ‘I’m still here’. He won’t appear discomfort to her like old days. This means that though he is recalling his beloved, he doesn’t want to create any problem for her.

In the end he also says that ‘I’m not holding my breath for a reply’. So, even though he might be recalling his lady love, he doesn’t expect any kind of reply from her. The speaker does not seem any obsessive kind of lover. Although he is remembering and recalling his beloved, he is doing so out of pain and anxiety. It is a memory recall for him.

‘Revolving Days’ is a fitting title poem not only for the strength of its address to a former love, but for its referencing of the different selves that the poetry collection Typewriter Music catalogues. In his author note, Malouf explains that poems appear according to the places or events that “touched off” the writing.

That being said, the title of the poem ‘Revolving Days’ appropriately fits the explanation and gives a straightforward hint at the condition through which the speaker has gone in the past.

 

3. The Structure

[Q. Comment on the structure of the poem ‘Revolving Days’ by David Malouf.]

The first poem of Typewriter Music, “Revolving Days”, is playful but not especially unusual syntactically. Recalling a lover of his youth, Malouf hastens to assure him No, don’t worry, I won’t appear out of that old time to discomfort you. And no, at this distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply. All readers of Malouf will know of his obsession with the contiguity between different worlds. In itself this is not an uncommon idea – it may be the basis of most modern science-fiction – but Malouf is distinctive in his attempts to reduce the significance of the threshold, to argue that a spectrum of worlds exists and the act of crossing is not in itself especially important. Generally he is not a “dramatic” writer in that he doesn’t exploit the uncanny effect

of sudden appearances from another dimension – such as happens in the first book of the Iliad when Athena appears behind Achilles, unseen by everyone else, and grasps him by the hair (surely a reference to the spine-tingling effects either of the

numinous or, in my reading, the existence of a creature from the different dimension). And yet there are great dramatic moments in An Imaginary Life, especially when the centaurs appear in a dream, demanding to be let into Ovid’s life.

In “Revolving Days” Malouf is visited by an image of himself from the past and knows that his lover of that period must be in the next room. It is a wittier and much more sophisticated poem than it would be if the lover stepped through a door to the past and confronted him: instead Malouf assures the lover that he will not be making any sudden incursions into the lover’s current world “to discomfort you”, Malouf himself will not act the part of one of the homely angels that we meet so often in Malouf’s world. I think this is a quite brilliant and unexpected inversion.

One boundary has been broken- each turns into a night creature – but the poem is written so that the individuals experience their new identity as they see it in the other. Not a funny joke but, like the inversion of “Revolving Days” an enriching and complexifying piece of play.

‘Revolving Days’ by David Malouf is a three-stanza poem that’s divided into uneven sets of lines. The first stanza contains ten, the second: seven, and the third: six. Malouf did not give this poem a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. Rather, the lines vary in the number of syllables and the number of words.

Although there is not a structured rhyme scheme there are moments of rhyme within the poem. These are seen through repetition such as with “lasted” and “lasted” in line two of the first stanza, as well as through half-rhyme. Also known as slant or partial rhyme, half-rhyme is seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. For example, “green” and “League” in lines eight and nine of the first stanza. Or, another example, “seeing” and “be” in six and seven of the same stanza.

Malouf makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘Revolving Days’. These include alliteration, anaphora, enjambment, and caesura. The latter, caesura, occurs when a line is split in half, sometimes with punctuation, sometimes not. The use of punctuation in these moments creates a very intentional pause in the text.

We never write. But sometimes, knotting my tie at a mirror, one of those selves I had expected steps into the room. In the next room you are waiting (we have not yet taken back the life we promised to pour into each other’s mouths forever and for ever) while I choose between changes to surprise you.

A reader should consider how the pause influences the rhythm of one’s reading and how it might proceed an important turn or transition in the text. For instance, line one of the third stanza. It reads: “Revolving days. My heart”. Or, as a mother

example, a reader can look to line three of the second stanza which reads: “steps into the room. In the next room you”.

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For example, “life as lover” in line eight of the first stanza and “writing” and “wherever” in line two of stanza three.

Malouf also makes use of anaphora, or the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession. This technique is often used to create emphasis. A list of phrases, items, or actions may be created through its implementation.

Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence.

4. Symbolism in the Poem

[Q. What significant symbols and images have been used by David Malouf in the poem ‘Revolving Days?]

Malouf has always been, and continues to be, a more than usually ‘philosophical’ poet, in the sense that he raises and pursues sometimes quite persistently – philosophical ideas that interest him, usually ideas about language and reality, memory and consciousness. These give some of his poetry an intellectual, even at times a Theoretical element, which has done his reputation no harm in the contemporary academy: those interests have remained there as enduring preoccupations from the earlier volumes to the later. So too has a certain sophisticated allusiveness, most notably to the great Roman poet Horace, who has inhabited Malouf’s sensibility from Bicycle (1970) to Typewriter Music (2007) and with whose wry self-mocking worldliness Malouf clearly feels strong affinities. –

Within ‘Revolving Days’Malouf explores themes of relationships, the past, and memory. His speaker addresses his ex-lover, expressing his lasting emotions and depicting the revolving days of his life and role as “lover”. The mood is resigned and contemplative as he considers who he was, who he is, and the person his ex-lover is now.

“Revolving Days” uses apostrophe and symbolism to convey the idea that moving on from lost love can be incredibly difficult and even impossible. Apostrophe is when the speaker addresses someone absent or dead as though they were there and could respond. Here, the poet’s use of apostrophe helps to convey the speaker’s sense of longing, of yearning, for the lover who has left him.

Further, the color of the shirts he purchased during this relationship-“mint green, one / pink, the third, called Ivy League, tan / with darker stripes . . . “-seem to symbolize the new life he hoped he’d have as a lover. They are bright and clean and

new, probably starched and crisp, one his “first button-down collar.” The colorful brightness of those shirts, as well as the “blue eyes” of his lost love, are the only colors in the poem. Life seems as though it is, perhaps, figuratively colorless now for him. Symbolically, then, life is duller, less exciting, in the wake of this love.

The first poem of Typewriter Music, “Revolving Days”, is playful but not especially unusual syntactically. Recalling a lover of his youth, Malouf hastens to assure him No, don’t worry, I won’t appear out of that old time to discomfort you. And no, at this distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply. All readers of Malouf will know of his obsession with the contiguity between different worlds. In itself this is not an uncommon idea – it may well the basis of most modern science-fiction – but Malouf is distinctive in his attempts to reduce the significance of the threshold, to argue that a spectrum of worlds exists and the act of crossing is not in itself especially important. Generally he is not a “dramatic” writer in that he doesn’t exploit the uncanny effect of sudden appearances from another dimension – such as happens in the first book of the Iliad when Athena appears behind Achilles, unseen by everyone else, and grasps him by the hair (surely a reference to the spine-tingling effects either of the. numinous or, in my reading, the existence of a creature from the different dimension). And yet there are great dramatic moments in An Imaginary Life, especially when the centaurs appear in a dream, demanding to be let into Ovid’s life.

In “Revolving Days” Malouf is visited by an image of himself from the past and knows that his lover of that period must be in the next room. It is a wittier and much more sophisticated poem than it would be if the lover stepped through a door to the past and confronted him: instead Malouf assures the lover that he will not be making any sudden incursions into the lover’s current world “to discomfort you”, Malouf himself will not act the part of one of the homely angels that we meet so often in Malouf’s world. I think this is a quite brilliant and unexpected inversion.

Typewriter Music is disarmingly frank about love as experience (the fact that it opens with “Revolving Days” establishes this), but here eroticism is reduced to a kind of undercurrent as though it is yet another joke which po-faced readers may miss.

5. As A Love Poem

[Q. Attempt a critical commentary of David Malouf’s ‘Revolving Days’ as an atypical love poem.]

The poem was first published in the volume Typewriter Music in 2007 and again as the title poem of the volume Revolving Days in 2008. The poems in the collection are arranged, ‘not in the order they were written but by the places that inspired them. The result is a fragmentary autobiography where old and new poems interleave in luminous, counterpoint; to read them is to travel often mysteriously, through space and time.

Malouf’s poems are a graceful interplay of language and memory. Non- linear time

PC LITERATURE (KU,WBSU)-31

with its associative unpredictability is one dimension of memory. The title ‘Revolving Days’ conceptualizes this aspect, as well as the re-emergence of memories; as a trope that builds on the inherent idea of circularity and returns that the word ‘revolving’ connotes.

In Malouf’s poems memory is ’embodied consciousness’. For Malouf the Body is the sensory receptor of the world we inhabit. Not only is lived experience filtered in through the five senses, but the passions and desires of the body have to be accommodated in our evolving sense of Self and the Other. on te m² ROD

I fell in love a mistake –

of course, but it lasted and has lasted.

The old tug at the heart, the grace unasked for, urgencies

that boom under the pocket of a shirt.

In this poem let us situate the ‘beloved’ as the other. Therefore, perhaps the ‘tug’ of reciprocated desire, (- ‘the life we promised to pour into each other’s mouths / forever and forever), is as constitutive of the poet’s seifhood as the separation and parting of ways of the lovers.

Therefore, we should not limit the poem into reading a specific gendered identity of the beloved.Labelling the desire as homoerotic or hetero-erotic would be a needless and reductive exercise. The resurfacing of embodied memories, has to allow space for one of those selves’ from the past to step into the present. My heart

in my mouth again, I’m writing this for you, wherever

you are, whoever is staring into your blue eyes. It is me,

I’m still here. No, don’t worry, I won’t appear out of

that old time to discomfort you. And no, at this

distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply.

Selfhood evolves out of an accretive understanding of the past in the present. ‘The fusion of intellect and passion in Malouf’s poetry is reminiscent of the metaphysical poets’; this is an interesting observation made by Amrita Singh, you can think over the idea and its relevance to this poem, however I have given you only a fragment idea cogently developed in the essay, hoping you read it for yourself. of the la

In this poem, the speaker reflects on a time in his past when he fell in love. He calls it a “mistake / of course,” but it seems as though the feeling has stayed with him nonetheless. He recalls the feelings he felt but also the colors of the shirts he purchased then, for his new life as a lover. He and his lover do not stay in touch. However, sometimes he feels like he tried to feel then, like one of the new selves in the new shirts, and he feels as though he is right back there in the relationship again. The time passes and days go by, but the speaker still feels that his “heart / [is] in [his] mouth again.” His feelings remain unchanged, then, and he considers who she might be involved with now. In the end, however, he assures her that he will not

reappear in her life and doesn’t mean to cause her any discomfort; he expects nothing from her and does not expect to hear from her.

6. Critical Estimate

[Q. Provide a brief critical appreciation for the poem ‘Revolving Days’.]

In the very appropriately titled Revolving Days, David Malouf has put together a selection of poems that addresses the past, place and its importance to self-definition, the memory of houses emptied of family and objects yet full of what’s left behind and filling up the present. The poems exhibit a quality which, with political comments more subtle than Les Murray’s and longings less romanticised than Robert Adamson’s, declares that the places where the emotions taken from another world rendezvous are always present and clear in comprehending the discrepancy between place-andmind and feeling-and-emotion.

Even so, there is no need to worry about every ‘yearning’, ‘toothbrush’, ‘daffodil bulb’ or ‘cloud’, Malouf might be saying. In every reader’s panorama, there is always what you see and what has meaning. Not everything has meaning at the same time; neither is everything with meaning seen. Indeed, the consistent motif-sequences of angels and their related images (wings, prayer, etc.) attempt to tell us that the relationship between writings and readings is an exchange of the highest order. Even when Malouf’s language is straight-forward, almost blunt, you are always required to read into it, as in ‘Early Discoveries’ in Part I, ‘Decade’s End’ in Part II, ‘Out of Sight’ in Part III, ‘A Place in Tuscany’ in Part IV. And when it is elusive, he still manages to speak in a surprising and clear language, as in ‘Pieces of a Northern Winter’ where ‘Fine scribble-lines of ice: the lake tenses / its skin, gives up / its wings’.

Polish philosopher Roman Ingarden wrote of the relationship between literary objects and real experience that we always regard as representing objects and events from this present moment only, a here-and-now phase. Ingarden followed that idea to suggest, for example, that the events in a poem only take as long to happen for us as we take to read them, even though the poem might tell us that these events spanned several years, their ‘present’ in this stanza, their ‘previous events’ in the following stanza.

However, the events are said to span years and it would be unrealistic, I think, to expect that the reader’s time in reading those words would also span years. It is more reasonable to consider that the words describing events that span years may occur for the reader as a brief memory does and last a few moments (while those moments observe a span of years). The text being read would only be acting as a record of the events much as an actual memory of them spanned a few moments and in no way contradicted that fact that the events being remembered spanned years. I live equally in both places or spheres of existence, that is, in my experiencing the events in actuality, in re-living them in memory or as if they were events in a

poem and in the conversation we just had where we took turns reciting that poem. I feel it is that kind of experience to which Malouf is drawing our attention in the title poem ‘Revolving Days’:

We never write. But sometimes, knotting my tie at a mirror, one of those selves I had expected steps into the room. In the next room you are waiting (we have not yet taken back the life we promised to pour into each other’s mouths forever and for ever) while I choose between changes to surprise you. Revolving days. My heart In my mouth again, I’m writing this for you, wherever you are, whoever is staring into your blue eyes. It is me, I’m still here.

In other words, Malouf seems to be saying this to me. I find myself surrounded by things and events where I didn’t participate in the existence or identification of those things or in the activities that made up those events when they first made themselves available to me. And yet I am brought into the actions that identify those things and comprise those events. Perhaps this is because conceptualising is not just a concept of the mind; that is, the conceptualising we attribute to the mind. From here on, every mechanism works in and out so that as a reader I am transformed in the most minute degrees as my memories of myself appear to be; the whole world, extending me with themselves until all possible transformations are complete by will and imagination.

An amazing poem ‘Revolving Days’ comes from one of Australia’s most distinguished poets, David Malouf. Malouf’s best poems, with their grace and intelligence, remain among the finest examples of the Australian lyric.

David Malouf’s poem “Revolving Days” is the title poem for one of his numerous books of poetry. In the poem, he is drawn back in time by the memories of a past love. Although he says that falling in love was a mistake, the love has endured within him. He seems to transcend time when he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He feels like his love is in the other room and he is deciding which self he is going to present. He remembers three shirts he purchased during that time period which represent the changes that he was making in himself. He was experimenting with his identity.

In reality, time has passed; his lover is far away. This semblance of moving in and out of reality is reflected in the title, “Revolving Days.” In the end, Malouf’s words reassure his past love that although the memories have conjured up physical emotions, there will be no intrusion into present life. He does not expect anything in return, he says. “And no, at this distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply.”

In this poem, the speaker reflects on a time in his past when he fell in love. He calls it a “mistake / of course,” but it seems as though the feeling has stayed with him nonetheless. He recalls the feelings he felt but also the colors of the shirts he purchased then, for his new life as a lover. He and his lover do not stay in touch. However, sometimes he feels like he tried to feel then, like one of the new selves in the new shirts, and he feels as though he is right back there in the relationship again. The time passes and days go by, but the speaker still feels that his “heart / [is] in [his] mouth again.” His feelings remain unchanged, then, and he considers who she might be involved with now. In the end, however, he assures her that he will not reappear in her life and doesn’t mean to cause her any discomfort; he expects nothing from her and does not expect to hear from her.

“Revolving Days” uses apostrophe and symbolism to convey the idea that moving on from lost love can be incredibly difficult and even impossible. Apostrophe is when the speaker addresses someone absent or dead as though they were there and could respond. Here, the poet’s use of apostrophe helps to convey the speaker’s sense of longing, of yearning, for the lover who has left him. Further, the color of the shirts he purchased during this relationship-“mint green, one / pink, the third, called Ivy League, tan / with darker stripes . . . “-seem to symbolize the new life he hoped he’d have as a lover. They are bright and clean and new, probably starched and crisp, one his “first button-down collar.” The colorful brightness of those shirts, as well as the “blue eyes” of his lost love, are the only colors in the poem. Life seems as though it is, perhaps, figuratively colorless now for him. Symbolically, then, life is duller, less exciting, in the wake of this love.

Thus, ‘Revolving Days is a masterwork from one of our greatest poets.’ says The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia. It reveals the full range of Malouf’s art with subtlety and grace, while providing the additional delight of his life story. But for all his technical virtuosity – his spritely syntactical play, his famous sense of the line as breath the poems have an enigmatic life of their own.

A TEXTUAL EVALUATION [BROAD TYPE QUESTIONS: 5 MARKS]

1. What is the theme of the poem “Revolving Days,” and what is the state of mind of the speaker?

If we had to pick one theme for David Malouf’s poem, we’d go with love. As love is a rather large topic, we probably have some explaining to do about what this poem says about love and about what love does to the speaker’s state of mind.

In the first line, Malouf seems to give away the theme when he tells us: “That year I had nowhere to go, I feel in love”. More than a theme, love seems to be the motivating force for the poem. What tugs at his heart? Love.

The main theme of “Revolving Days” seems to be love. Love tugs at the speaker’s heart and leads him to buy different colored shirts. Love seems to have made the speaker unsure of who he is or what to do. He’s out of sorts, yet love has not ridden our speaker of all of his senses. He knows he shouldn’t do something to “discomfort” his ex love.

2. Explain : “That year I had nowhere to go, I fell in love – a mistake of course”.

The line has been quoted from the opening stanza of the poem ‘Revolving Days’ by David Malouf. Here the speaker looks back on his life and remembers the year that he “fell in love”. He explains it simply, it happened because he had nowhere to go. This frivolous start dissolves as he adds that it “lasted and has lasted”.

The next lines use imagery as a way of painting a picture of the past, as well as evoking in the reader an emotional response to the speaker’s personal life. He recalls what it felt like to be falling in love. Specifically the “boom under the pocket of a shirt” urging him on and the “old tug at the heart”.

In an original depiction of a lover’s mind, he describes buying shirts and using them as a way to understand himself as a “lover”. These ranged in color and one was his “first button-down collar”.

3. What is the subject-matter of the poem?

David Malouf’s poem “Revolving Days” is the title poem for one of his numerous books of poetry. In the poem, he is drawn back in time by the memories of a past love. Although he says that falling in love was a mistake, the love has endured within him. He seems to transcend time when he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He feels like his love is in the other room and he is deciding which self he is going to present. He remembers three shirts he purchased during that time period which represent the changes that he was making in himself. He was experimenting with his identity.

In reality, time has passed; his lover is far away. This semblance of moving in and out of reality is reflected in the title, “Revolving Days.” In the end, Malouf’s words reassure his past love that although the memories have conjured up physical emotions, there will be no intrusion into present life. He does not expect anything in return, he says. “And no, at this distance, I’m not holding my breath for a reply.”

4. What type of apostrophe and symbolism are used in the poem ‘Revolving Days’?

In this poem, the speaker reflects on a time in his past when he fell in love. He calls it a “mistake / of course,” but it seems as though the feeling has stayed with

him nonetheless. He recalls the feelings he felt but also the colors of the shirts he purchased then, for his new life as a lover. He and his lover do not stay in touch. However, sometimes he feels like he tried to feel then, like one of the new selves in the new shirts, and he feels as though he is right back there in the relationship again. The time passes and days go by, but the speaker still feels that his “heart / [is] in [his] mouth again.” His feelings remain unchanged, then, and he considers who she might be involved with now. In the end, however, he assures her that he will not reappear in her life and doesn’t mean to cause her any discomfort; he expects nothing from her and does not expect to hear from her.

“Revolving Days” uses apostrophe and symbolism to convey the idea that moving on from lost love can be incredibly difficult and even impossible. Apostrophe is when the speaker addresses someone absent or dead as though they were there and could respond. Here, the poet’s use of apostrophe helps to convey the speaker’s sense of longing, of yearning, for the lover who has left him. Further, the color of the shirts he purchased during this relationship-“mint green, one / pink, the third, called Ivy League, tan / with darker stripes . . . “-seem to symbolize the new life he hoped he’d have as a lover. They are bright and clean and new, probably starched and crisp, one his “first button-down collar.” The colorful brightness of those shirts, as well as the “blue eyes” of his lost love, are the only colors in the poem. Life seems as though it is, perhaps, figuratively colorless now for him. Symbolically, then, life is duller, less exciting, in the wake of this love.

5. “We never write”. – What do we never write? What happens next?

The line excerpted from Malouf’s ‘Revolving Days, states the themes of relationships, the past, and memory. His speaker addresses his ex-lover, expressing his lasting emotions and depicting the revolving days of his life and role as “lover”. The mood is resigned and contemplative as he considers who he was, who he is, and the person his ex-lover is now.

As the poem progresses it becomes clear that the love the speaker experienced is a little more complicated than it seemed. It “lasted” but not in the way one might immediately expect. He looks to the past, while also considering the future, in this stanza.

The past comes back to greet him while he’s in the bathroom looking in the mirror and he recalls the time they spent together and the promises they made. These have fallen to the wayside as has the relationship.

6. What image is being visited by the speaker?

In “Revolving Days” Malouf is visited by an image of himself from the past and knows that his lover of that period must be in the next room. It is a wittier and much more sophisticated poem than it would be if the lover stepped through a door to the past and confronted him: instead Malouf assures the lover that he will not be making any sudden incursions into the lover’s current world “to discomfort you”, Malouf

himself will not act the part of one of the homely angels that we meet so often in Malouf’s world. I think this is a quite brilliant and unexpected inversion. 7. What happens in the final stanza of the poem?

In the final stanza of ‘Revolving Days, the speaker makes use of the phrase “Revolving days” to depict the nature of his heart and memory. He is writing “this for” his ex-lover. They are no longer together. In fact, he doesn’t know where they are. They could be with someone new. Despite the changes that have happened he’s the same.

Before the intended listener/the speaker’s ex-lover starts to worry, he says he’s not going to pop up from the past “to discomfort” them. They are at a distance and he knows there is very little chance he’ll be getting a reply to this letter in poem form. 8. How far has Malouf written ‘Revolving Days as a successful love poem?

In this poem, the speaker reflects on a time in his past when he fell in love. He calls it a “mistake / of course,” but it seems as though the feeling has stayed with him nonetheless. He recalls the feelings he felt but also the colors of the shirts he purchased then, for his new life as a lover. He and his lover do not stay in touch. However, sometimes he feels like he tried to feel then, like one of the new selves in the new shirts, and he feels as though he is right back there in the relationship again. The time passes and days go by, but the speaker still feels that his “heart / [is] in [his] mouth again.” His feelings remain unchanged, then, and he considers who she might be involved with now. In the end, however, he assures her that he will not reappear in her life and doesn’t mean to cause her any discomfort; he expects nothing from her and does not expect to hear from her.

SHORT TYPE QUESTIONS

1. When and where was the poem first published?

The poem was first published in the volume Typewriter Music in 2007.

2. Was the poem republished?

The poem was again published as the title poem of the volume Revolving Days in 2008.

3. What is the main theme of the poem?

The main theme of “Revolving Days” seems to be love. Love tugs at the speaker’s heart and leads him to buy different colored shirts.

4. How is the speaker acting out?

Love seems to have made the speaker unsure of who he is or what to do. He’s

out of sorts, yet love has not ridden our speaker of all of his senses. He knows he shouldn’t do something to “discomfort” his ex love.

5. How are the poems in Malouf’s collection Revolving Days arranged?

The poems in the collection are arranged, ‘not in the order they were written but by the places that inspired them.

6. How does the poem sound?

The poem sounds as a fragmentary autobiography where old and new memories interleave in luminous, counterpoint; to read them is to travel often mysteriously, through space and time.

7. What does the speaker do in the poem?

In ‘Revolving Days, the speaker takes a look at his past relationship and the evolution of his role as a ‘lover’.

8. Which significant themes are being explored by Malouf in the poem?

Within ‘Revolving Days, David Malouf explores the themes of relationships, its past, and memory.

9. Mention a notable characteristic of David Malouf’s poems.

Malouf’s poems are a graceful interplay of language and memory.

10. Whom does the speaker address? How?

The speaker addresses his ex-lover.

He addresses by expressing his lasting emotions and depicting the revolving days of his life and role as ‘lover’.

11. How is the timeline of the poem?

Non- linear time with its associative unpredictability is one dimension of memory. 12. What does the title conceptualize?

The title ‘Revolving Days’ conceptualizes this aspect, as well as the re-emergence of memories; as a trope that builds on the inherent idea of circularity and returns that the word ‘revolving’ connotes.

13. How is the mood of the speaker?

The mood of the speaker is resigned and contemplative as he considers who he was, who he is now, and the person his ex-lover is now.

14. Do you know any other similar poems of Malouf?

Malouf’s original love poem is a pleasure to read. There are many other poems that take love and look at it from a slightly different point of view or use unusual imagery (such as that of buying different colored shirts) to depict it. Readers might be interested in ‘Love is Not All’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay, ‘I Carry Your Heart With Me (I carry it in)’ by e.e. cummings, ‘Valentine’ by Carol Ann Duffy, and ‘Love’ by Billy Collins.

15. How has the body become the sensory receptor of the speaker in the poem?

In Malouf’s poem ‘Revolving Days, memory is ’embodied consciousness’. For Malouf the Body is the sensory receptor of the world we inhabit.

16. How does the poet feel unanimous with the desires of the body? Not only is lived experience of the poet filtered in through the five senses, but the passions and desires of the body have to be accommodated in our evolving sense of Self and the Other. In this poem let us situate the ‘beloved’ as the other.

17. Give the sense of the word ‘Tug’.

Perhaps the word ‘tug’ symbolizes reciprocated desire, (- ‘the life we promised to pour into each other’s mouths /forever and forever), used as constitutive of the poet’s selfhood as the separation and parting of ways of the lovers.

18. Is the poem, a letter to someone or just recollection of thoughts? These words are recollections of an adult and we do not see anyone writing these in any letter.

19. What do you know about the beloved?

We should not limit the poem into reading a specific gendered identity of the beloved. All we know about her from the words spoken by the poet here is her blue eyes, her choice of color in case of the speaker’s clothes and how he used to create discomfort in her life when they were together.

20. What does ‘those selves’ signify?

The resurfacing of embodied memories, has to allow space for one of those selves’ from the past to step into the present.

21. How does the poet’s selfhood evolve?

The poet’s selfhood evolves out of an accretive understanding of the past in the present.

22. What type of poem is ‘Revolving Days?

On the surface it stands as a love poem but the fusion of intellect and passion in Malouf’s poetry is reminiscent of the metaphysical poets. .CI 23. What is the poet’s ability here?

The poet’s ability here is to reconstitute experience though the act of writing. 24. Mention the colors of the shirts that the speaker used to buy. When the speaker was with his beloved, he used to buy different types of colored shirts like mint green, pink, tan with darker stripes and also with Ivy League logo printed upon it.

25. Who is waiting for whom?

The speaker thinks of a certain memory where his beloved used to wait for him in the next room while he tried to surprise her.

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