Poem: This is the dark time, my love. By Martin Carter

This is the dark time, my love,

All round the land brown beetles crawl about.

The shining sun is hidden in the sky.

Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow.

This is the dark time, my love,

It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.

It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery.

Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious.

Who comes walking in the dark night time?

Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass?

It is the man of death, my love, the strange invader

Watching you sleep and aiming at your dreams.

~~~

 This was one of the twenty poems that I had to analyze for my CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations I wrote this year. It’s also one of my favourites. In this poem Mr.Carter, a Guyanese, describes the arrival of the British troops in what used to be British Guiana at the time of independence. Our narrator is engaged in conversation with his lover, referring to the invading soldiers -the’ brown beetles’ – and the effect of their presence on the country. He sees the soldiers bringing death with them and destroying the dreams of innocent people.

(Note: After independence, British Guiana became Guyana, a ‘y’ replacing the ‘i’ and more formally known as Co-operative Republic of Guyana)

The repetition of the line ‘This is the dark time, my love’ emphasizes on what a dreadful and fearful time it was. They were almost there, almost free of the British hold.

Even Mother Nature herself was aware of the struggle: ‘The shining sun is hidden in the sky. Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow’

I quote:

‘This is the dark time, my love,

It is the season of oppression, dark metal, and tears.

It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery.

Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious.’

Those lines alone tells me how bad it was. I am transported back in time when chaos, fear, hate were in abundance where hope hung by a thread but there was still hope nonetheless.

Who comes walking in the dark night time?

Whose boot of steel tramps down the slender grass?

It is the man of death, my love, the strange invader

Watching you sleep and aiming at your dreams.

Aiming at the dreams of the innocent, people who had a right to look forward for a brighter future for their country and themselves. Free of being bullied, hated and looked down upon because of being different only to have a dark shadow cast over them by the invasion of the soldiers.

~~~

This simple poem touched me deep somewhere inside and being a Guyanese myself it holds a bit more meaning to me. After years of British reign Guyana became a free country on  May 26th, 1966. It’s during my days at high school when I began to appreciate poetry though some may be as easy to decipher as a foreign language.

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67 thoughts on “Poem: This is the dark time, my love. By Martin Carter

    • The imagery in those lines, as I’ve mentioned in my explanation, are:
      All round the land brown beetles crawl about

      These beetles as you can imagine were the British soldiers invading the young country, wrecking havoc.

      Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow

      Mother Nature was taking a turn for the worse, overcome with sadness that even the usually cheery blossoms drooped.

      I apologize for replying so late, I was buried alive under homework at the time. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

    • Well, I find it very suitable due to the fact that it was indeed a “dark” time during that period of Guyana’s history, the oppression and the people living in constant fear. Simply put, “This is the dark time my love” aptly describes the atmosphere of that particular time and also life as seen thorough the poet’s eyes as he relays his thoughts to his lover. Was this helpful, Sasha?

  1. Hi Jelly Beans, I love your analysis. The poem was a wake up call to the guyanes, who are generally very timid. The lover that he makes reference to, is his country fellowmen. He is making a literary resistance to the delay in the well deserved freedom. Martin Carter the Poet makes reference to the Guyanese as ‘Slender grass’. I love the fact that you chose to post this Poem.

  2. jus wat i needed for my poetry presentation on this particular poem, ur such good help. oh i hope u dont mind if i use ur summary for my poem

  3. Thank you sooo much..! I appreciate this alot.. Didnt understand it in class and a friend of mine told me abt this website.. Thanks agn.. Lets hope i can pass this test of mine..

  4. Actually ‘my love’ refers to the country(British Guyana) itself, and not the poet’s lover or anything else for that matter.

    • My grandfather, who was in special branch at the time, happened to know Cheddi Jagan and Carter when they were taken prisoners by the British and he told me that the poem was intended for his wife but it was also a message and means exactly what you said. I didn’t mention that earlier because I supposed that it wasn’t well known and I didn’t want to start any argument as that type of thing is apt to happen eventually. Thank you for the comment!

  5. Wow…this reallyy helps me but does this poem have any persinification,or any literary devices???because thats what my teacher is(i think)is putting test on!!!!!Hope i pass because she will and does brring hard questions!! *_*

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