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The poem “This is the Dark Time, My Love” is a patriotic poem written by Martin Carter. In this poem Carter describes the time as a dark time, which means a time full of sadness. The poet describes a time full of war and oppression for the country. The poem describes the struggle of his country, especially during the British colonization of Guyana in 1953.
About the poet
Martin Carter was born in 1927 in Guyana. He was a poet and a political activist. His ideologies are very clearly expressed in some of the poems that he wrote. He was regarded as the best Guyanese poet. While playing a significant role in Guyanese politics, his poems had strong themes of resistance and revolution. He is best known for his poetry collection “Poems of Resistance from British Guyana” published in 1954.
The poem is divided into three quatrains. A quart rain is a stanza consisting of four lines.
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.
The speaker in this stanza addresses his Love and tells them that it is a dark time. The entire land is overshadowed by dark and dismal things like brown beetles. The happy times, i.e. the shining sun is hidden behind clouds and has cast a layer of darkness everywhere.the vibrant and beautiful red flowers as well have lost their vibrancy and now have bent their heads in sadness.
The speaker is speaking to his “love” and telling them that their country is covered in darkness and sad times. Here the “Love” can be a woman that he loves or he could also be referring to his country as his love and telling it about the social and political state of the land. In the next line the poet says that the land is covered with brown beetles. Here the “brown beetles” symbolize soldiers and how the land is crawling with them. This creates an atmosphere of war. In the next lines, the poet shows how even nature is reflecting the dark mood of the land. “The shining sun” and “red flowers” are a symbol of optimism and happiness. But the poet says that both of them have hidden themselves. Both the sun and the flowers are mourning what is happening in the country.
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.
In this stanza the speaker again addresses his love and says that the dark times are a season of oppression, dark metal and sadness. He uses irony here and says that it is a festival and a carnival of guns and misery. The speaker also talks about how the people of the land are filled with anxiety about what is going to happen next.
In this stanza the time is described as a season of destruction and tears. The “dark metal” in these lines stands for the metal of machinery and weapons. They likely refer to the tanks and missiles used in wars. In the next lines the speaker puts together two completely contrasting concepts and creates irony when he describes the dark time as a “festival of guns” and “carnival of misery”. This is done to emphasize the violence, death and helplessness of the situation. The people around carry the emotions of disparate and anxiousness on their faces while looking at the circumstances around them. The “men” can be both the countrymen and the soldiers.
In the final stanza the speaker asks some rhetorical questions. He asks who is walking during the night of these dark times. Who is trampling the grass with his steel boots. These questions lead to the revelation of the man being Death. The speaker says that it is the man of death who is invading their homes and country and as his love sleeps the man of death aims to destroy her dreams and aspirations.
Through the use of rhetorical questions, the poet reveals the man as the personification of death and war. The personified death walks the streets of the country at night and is destroying the slender grass of the country. The “boot of steel” symbolizes the forceful oppression of the land. The “slender grass” symbolizes not only nature but also the people of the country. In the next lines, the man of death is a metaphor for the British colonists, as they are the “strange invader” in the speaker’s country. These colonists enter the speaker’s land and watch the dreams of his love, his people and his country in order to destroy them completely.
Throughout the poem, we can see the essence of resistance of the poet towards the colonization of his country. He addresses the poem to his love, which could be the personification of his country or a woman that he loves or his fellow countrymen. The poet wants to warn his love about the impending doom and the destruction happening in the country. He mourns the loss of the freedom and independence of the land which has now been invaded by a strange man, the man of death.