This Is The Dark Time My Love

What takes place in the poem, "This is the Dark Time, My Love" by Martin Carter?

What is the effect of the repeated reference to 'my love' in the poem?


Expert Answers
ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let's begin by taking the poem piece by piece in order to figure out what it means:

"This is the Dark Time, My Love" --we can learn a lot by looking at the titles to poems.  "Dark Time" has the implication of danger, or trouble.  "My love" lets us know that the poem is addressing someone.

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 

--Okay, the narrator is addressing someone he (or she) loves, letting that person know that times are difficult.  The images given are probably not meant to be taken literally.  Brown Beetles crawling about (could be a reference to crop eating bugs...symbolic of destruction) and the sun his hidden in the sky (the sun being a sign of light and hope, its being hidden can imply that evil or danger is at hand.)  Lastly, the red flowers bend their heads toward the ground (another sign of sadness, of despair.)

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

--Here the phrase is repeated about "dark time, my love."  This is probably done for rhythmic appeal and to reinforce the idea that the narrator is speaking to someone in particular. The second line alludes to great hostility, with being "oppressed."  "Dark metal" probably is a reference to weaponry, and tears, well, you know what they are.  Line four contrasts "festival" with "guns" and "carnival" with "misery."  These comparisons are the opposite of what most people would think of when thinking about a carnival or festival.  That's what makes them stand out.  The last line shows the strain that the times are putting on people.

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 stranger invader 
Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.

--These references seem to be military in nature...the idea that some invading army is approaching.  Steel boots could be a reference to armor, or steel reinforced ones.  Notice the way they trample the grass, another thing symbolic of (like the beetles) something natural and good being destroyed by something alien and unnatural.  "Watching you sleep and aiming at your dreams."  Again, another military-style image, as in taking aim with a weapon.  The narrator appears to be describing the way that the invader is destroying the person's chances at happiness and a normal life. Hope this helps!


crystal101 | Student

"This is the Dark Time My Love" is poem that deals with cruelty and the pain and suffering of war. It speaks about the struggles of Guyana during British colonization in 1953. The British colonial government has suspended  the constitution, and so the soldiers are policing the country. The British sent their  soldiers into British Guiana to crush their uprising . The poet is personifying his country as his 'love'. Images of nature are mixed with those of war/oppression.

  • 'brown beatles' refers the tankers.


'Red flowers bend their heads.....' this is to show that flowers/nature is feeling the pain.

'dark metals' represents the guns.

'hidden sun in the sky' symbolizes the hidden hope of the people.

OXYMORONS- 'carnival of misery' and ' festival of guns'

REPITITION- 'this is the dark time my love' is seen in the title stanza one and stanza two. It is repeated so as to emphasize the oppresion (dark time) of his country (my love).


Stanza one and two talk about the threat while stanza three tries to define or find out what is that threat. The  questions of stanza three show uncertainty of the people of Guyana.

'Man of death' and 'crush their dreams' is talking about the invaders trying to stop them from being free.

TONE- the tone of the whole poem is one of warning.


varni | Student

to understand any of his poetry, you need to know about martin carter and about what he stood for and what he represented while he was alive.

martin carter was a guyanese poet and social activist. during his early twenties he became heavily involved in movements for independance. this, would later be tha cause of his arrest. during his spell in jail he would go on to compose his most important collection, Poems of Resistance, which was eventually published in London, in 1954.

i've heard that carter wrote letters to his wife, from jail, in the form of poems. i'm not sure how true this is, but assuming that it is true the "my love" he speaks to in This is the dark time, my love.

so moving on to the actual poem :D

the poem is set in British Guiana at the time when the governor suspended the constitution and British soilders were sent in to "maintain order"

"this is he dark time, my love

all round the land brown beetles crawl about"

where he says "this is the dark time", he is speaking about how the people of Guyana, or rather British Guiana, as it was known then, were being oppressed and were being denied basic human rights.

he uses the term "brown beetles" to speak about the soilders. this comparison is because of the earth couloured uniforms the soilders would have worn and the vehicles they drove.

"the sun is hidden in the sky

red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow"

the sun is a symbol of hope and the fact that it is "hidden in the sky" shows just how bleaque things are.

red refers to the blood of inncoent people spilt and the people's love for their counrty (as they are fighting for independance)

"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"

he repeats "this is the dark time my love" to stress the dire situation.

"oppression" speaks of how the people are being treated by the soilders. "dark metal" this may be a referance to guns or the jail cells. "tears" is simply used to emphasize the sorrow of the people.

"festival of guns" and "carnival of misery" are oxymorons (when 2 contradictory terms are brought together"

carnival and festival = happy :D

guns and misery = sad :(

"Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious" this is simply descriptive.

"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 stranger invader 
Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream."

the use of rethorical question here makes the reader wonder if these people ever, at any point in time, experience a feeling of security.

"It is the man of death, my love, the stranger invader" this is a metaphor which comapres colonialism to a death sentence.

"Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream" again a metaphor. this line speaks of oppression dealing a deathly blow to their dreams of independance; the future seems dismal.

there are many figures of speech in this peom which i didn't highlight, mostly because they are quite obvious and i really didn't want to.

vyala | Student

Also, about the sun being hidden by the clouds:

the sun is seen as something of happiness, something of hope, but here it is said that the clouds are covering it, which means that times are hard, people are downcast, oppression is in the air....BUT, since it is hidden by the clouds, the sun is still there, it hasn't disappeared, it means that there is still chance for hope, for the end of oppression and of British Presence.

mandi-xoxo | Student

THe "Love" he/she ids referring to could be his village/country/ his wife of someone very close to him.Well, with close reference to the first answer, it it partially correct, but these Brown Beetles we are referring to are NOT literal Brown Beetles, the are merely soldiers in their brown uniforms who have invaded the town/village.

The 'festival of guns and the carnival of misery'- two oxymorons here, and these are VERY STRONGLYYYYYYYY contrasted. Where the wilting red flowers are mentioned, this is known as pathetic falacy, and the device used here is known as personification.......

&*&)(%^()&& i hope this helps (= &*&)(%^()&&

tuxidos | Student

i need the answer for the effect of repeat reference to my love in poem


jcgabby | Student

The reputition of the phrase 'my love' maybe means that the poet is trying to make the reader understand that the persona of the poem really means alot to him. He warns the persona of the dangers that are approaching maybe because he has great concern for the persona and reputition bring out exageration.