Saturday, 1 March 2008

‘Tentacles’ meets Martin Carter

You are involved

This I have learnt:
today a speck
tomorrow a hero
you are consumed!
Like a jig
shakes the loom;
like web
is spun the pattern
all are involved!
all are consumed!

(Martin Carter [1927-1997], 'Selected Poems', Peepal Tree, 1999, p.91)

'Tentacles', Remi's Self-portrait

‘Tentacles’ meets Martin Carter

Browsing through the shelves of public library recently I picked up selected poems of Martin Carter. Turning the pages I come upon a poem “You are involved”. I hadn’t even read the introduction or his life sketch.

I was amazed as I read through ‘You are involved’; it verbalized ‘Tentacles’ – my self-portrait that I had painted a couple of decades back, whatever may be the references of the two works.

As I turn the pages, I came across several lines that draw me like a magnet, from the other end of the globe. Martin Carter is a poet of universal appeal that goes beyond the provincialism, political or sovereign boundaries. I being a colonial subject and now a subject to neocolonialism his poems stir me deep within my belly.

I can’t resist mentioning a few lines:

… But what the leaves hear
is not what the roots ask. …('Proem', p. 87)


And so again I become one of the ten thousands
one of the uncountable miseries owning the land. …

('I come from the nigger yard', p. 95-97)

To see a shop and dream of holy temples
is to expect a toad to sing a song. …

('To substitute a temple', p. 103)

There is no shortcut to integrity
All, all is gone, all gone, the murderer cried. …

('Now there was one', p. 105)

…. In despair there is hope, but there is none in death.
Now I repeat it here, feeling a waste of life,
In a market-place of doom, watching the human face!

(Black Friday 1962, p. 107)

O first sprouting leaf and last falling fruit
your roots come before you were given to air….

(Voices, p. 111)

What is rain for, if not rice
for an empty pot; and pot for
in a hungry village? ... (Rice, p.133)

No winder Martin is people’s poet and spontaneously hailed by the Guyanese people as national poet of Guyana (formerly British Guyana), the honor best of all other recognitions and awards. His poems are chronicles of history of existence of modern times, not only of Guyana.

Martin Carter Blog is a commendable and fitting tribute to his legacy. The blog that impresses anyone at the first glance: the unity of the Guyanese people and the panoramic view of the spurt of activities there. I write this humble note to endorse my solidarity with the Guyanese people and my respectful tribute to Martin Carter.

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

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