David Malouf

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What is the theme of the poem "Revolving Days," and what is the state of mind of the speaker?

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.

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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. What compels him to buy a bunch of different shirts? Love.

The consuming and tugging point to a speaker whose state of mind is rather frazzled and unsure. He doesn't know who he wants to be and he’s being pulled in different directions. The dislocation is further emphasized when Malouf tells us: "My heart / in my mouth again." Is that where your heart is supposed to be—in your mouth? No, it's supposed to be in your chest area.

Yet our speaker's state of mind also seems resigned and content. As urgent and restless as he feels about his love, he also seems to know that it's over.

"I'm not holding my breath for a reply," Malouf writes. Earlier, he says, "Don't worry, I won't appear out of the old time to discomfort you."

The above suggests that the speaker is still thinking reasonably. He's not going to do something drastic or weird. The above also shows the difference between Malouf's state of mind and his actions. Although the love he feels makes him considering doing something sudden (and probably embarrassing), he isn't going to act on those thoughts. He knows better.

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