"Revell's elegiac poems move quietly and thoughtfully through a group of juxtaposed subjects: absence and presence, grief and joy, reality and story, the poet's testimony set against the realization that 'so many things arrive as themselves and need / no witness.' . . . Revell represents a prevalent poetic style, the sincere and personal reverie with philosophic implications. He handles this mode with near flawless grace."
In Donald Revell’s poems, the present is often little more than an instant caught between the sadness of memory and the need to face the future’s blank expanse. Even the best dreams recall happiness that cannot be retrieved, while the worst memories bend past love into a crazy line through darkness: "Anything can turn furious. The crazy / line through wreckage that wears my face and all / the faces seems not to end. And on the way, / even the most damaged things have one / surface glazed, a sudden distorting mirror / that I can’t help finding. There, I look as I did / stalled in hours or places it is shame / to remember. The Eumenides are slow / vengeance, meted out by anywhere love fails / in the collapse and angry dealing of self-love. / The light presses. The air presses hard and no / story of mine if good enough to hold out."
When there is escape, calm in these poems it is often in thoughts of distant lands and pasts, in the works of other writers and artists--the bands of light and changing shadows of Cezanne’s canvases, the suburban desire and deep green lawns of Cheever’s fiction. It is art, stories, the urge to tell that brings hope in these lines.
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