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Once Upon a Time Sample Ans

  • Date Submitted: 01/18/2012 05:56 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.4 
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“Once Upon a Time” by Gabriel Okara is an intimate conversation between a parent and his son about life. How does the poet deal with the challenges he has experienced in his life? In your answer, you should make close reference to:
← Language of the poem;
← Differences between appearances and reality;
← What the father has learnt about life.

Ensure that you give evidence from the poem to support your answers.

(30 MARKS)


      “Once Upon a Time” by Gabriel Okara is a poem based on the theme of places. It is an intimate conversation between a father and son about the truth about life. This poem has seven stanzas and their lengths are unequal. This poem has no rhyme scheme. The fairy tale like title of the poem acts as a flash back. This gives the reader a sense that the poet is narrating a story. The overall tone of the poem is sombre and somewhat mournful as the persona compares the present with the past. The mournfulness is brought out by the persona being ashamed of who he has become.
      The opening line of the poem, “Once upon a time, son”, is a repetition of the title, furthering the effect of the flash back and sets the tone of the poem. The use of “son” sets the conversational tone and hints to the reader that the poem is an intimate conversation between father and son.
      In the next line, the persona says, “they used to laugh with their hearts”. The use of “they” refers to the society as a whole. The metaphor, “laugh with their hearts”, is a metaphor for innocence as laughing with one’s heart is impossible. The metaphor means that they laughed out of pleasure, not out for the sake of laughter. The tone of this line is quite friendly and reminiscent/ nostalgic of the days when there was black and white, no shades of grey. The persona looks back through rose-tinted glasses and this may suggest some exaggeration.
      The fourth line of the poem, “but now they only laugh with their teeth”, is another metaphor, but...


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