1. Background of the Literary Piece
Once Upon A Time by Gabriel Okara
The poem is written by Gabriel Okara, a Nigerian poet. He may have written the poem so that other people may understand how an African person deals with the western ideas. The poem is like a clash of cultures and how the speaker finds a way to adapt to the situation, the poem also gives a description about how the speaker wants to forget the ideals of these people. 2. Summary
The poem, is depicting a man, maybe of old age (or maybe the whole ethnicity of the African race) who tells that he wants to find out a way on how to bring back the joy in his face. I think, the man is the whole of Africa, it says that the foreign people, those who colonized them, treated them cold. They are like those people who greet other people for the sake of greeting them; just a cold stare runs on them. The old man is then influenced by these people. For me, the poem is like a warning to the future generations, as the old man is saying it on that tone, or should we say, manner. 3. Theme/Moral
The theme of the poem is about how a man struggled to adjust on a community where he is treated as a stranger; where he learned to adapt on the way he is treated by the said community. 4. Give at least 3-5 highlights. Explain each.
1“Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow.”
I think, this stanza states that, before other people treated them fair. It’s like nothing is wrong whoever or wherever they came from, but then suddenly, other people begin to treat them coldly. 2“There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but that’s gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.”
The “others” used to treat them fairly before, but now they begin to ransack everything, money, food, valuables and even their...
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