Authoritarian government, “This is the Dark Time My Love” by Martin Carter, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Forbes Burnham, Fr. Bernard Darke SJ, Guyanese Poet Martin Carter, Poems of Resistance from British Guiana by Martin Carter, Racial and ethnic divisive politics, Suspension of the British Guiana Constitution 1953, Working class oppression
British soldiers arrive in Georgetown – British Guiana – October 9, 1953
Photo Credit: Stabroek News (Photo British Pathé)
My Poetry Corner July 2019 features the poem “This is the Dark Time My Love” by Guyanese poet Martin Carter (1927-1997) from his poetry collection, Poems of Resistance from British Guiana (London 1954). Following the suspension of the British Guiana Constitution in 1953, the poet-politician composed the poems in this collection during his three-month detention, together with other political leaders, by the British Army.
For readers unfamiliar with Guyana’s history, a former British colony until May 26, 1966, slavery ended in 1834. Indentured laborers began arriving from India in 1838 and continued until 1917. Other immigrant workers came from Portuguese Madeira (1835-1882) and China (1853-1879). The population of the colony in the mid-1950s was about 450,000 people (UN estimate).
Born in 1927 in Georgetown, the capital of then British Guiana, to middle class parents of African, Indian, and European ancestry, the young Martin grows up with an appreciation for literature, poetry, and philosophy. After attending the colony’s prestigious Queen’s College, for boys only, he gains entry to the civil service, working first at the post office, then later as the secretary of the superintendent of prisons.
Aware of the oppression and despair of the sugarcane workers who toil under harsh conditions on the British-owned sugar plantations, Carter joins the political struggle for self-governance. In “Looking at Your Hands” (1), he affirms his solidarity with the plantation workers in their shared struggle under British rule.
I will not still my voice!
too much to claim –
you must know
I do not sleep to dream
but dream to change the world. Continue reading