Who is the persona and what is his attitude in the poem "This is the dark time, my love" by Martin Carter?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Martin Carter (1927-1997) was a poet  of mixed European, East Indian, and African descent who lived in British Guyana, a country in S. America that was a colony of Great Britain until 1966.  Many of his poems deal with themes of politics, resistance, and protest against colonialism (see first link below).

"This is the dark time, my love" fits into this category of poem.

The narrator of the poem seems to be a man who is addressing his "love"; whether this person is his lover or his child is debatable.

The poem begins with a simple description of nightfall:

This is the dark time, my love,
All round the land brown beetles crawl about
The shining sun is hidden in the sky.

The description quickly turns to a metaphorical darkness of oppression and misery:

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.

Based on the general themes of Carter's poetry, and on his political activism, it can be safely assumed that he is referring to the misery of colonial oppression.  This view is strengthened by the reference near the end of the poem to "the stranger invader"--the British colonizers who have invaded from a "strange," foreign land.

As its title indicates, this is a "dark," pessimistic poem.  As the poem concludes, the "stranger invader" is so powerful that he is "Watching you sleep and aiming at your dream."

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