Once Upon a Time', was written by Gabriel Okara, who is a Nigerian poet. He often explains what happens when a traditional African culture meets the forces of the Western way of life. I think the poem was written to outline the fake personalities of many people and to try and get them to return to a natural and innocent state.
The poem tells of the conversation between what seems to be a father and son, where the father wants to learn from his son how to go back to normality and no longer be fake. The poem 'Once Upon A Time' starts by the father telling his son how the people, or 'they', 'used to laugh with their hearts'. I think that the word 'they' refers to western people who are white. Also this description in the poem gives the impression of genuine emotion given off by the people.
He then moves on to say that now they only, 'laugh with their teeth, while their ice-block cold eyes search behind his shadow'. This gives off very negative, fake and false feelings and it is a very cold description. This affects the tone of the poem that now becomes sinister and bitter.
Stanza two of the Gabriel Okara poem then reveals more of the past when it is said that, 'they used to shake hands with their hearts', again this image reveals true and genuine emotion. But just as in the first Stanza the present reality is then discussed when it is said that, 'that has gone, now they only shake hands without hearts while their left hands search his empty pockets'. This shows that, again the people are fake and seem to be using the man to see what they can get.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document