Type: Dramatic Monologue


  • Written by Gabriel Okara
  • Addressed from a father to his son in a relatively straightforward style
  • Father is dismayed by the insincere forms of communication developed
  • Wants his son to “unlearn” these false ways
  • The poem is about people changing, becoming falser and more untrustworthy; also influence of Western values on African nations


  • Repetition of words and phrases to emphasize the point and provides a way of contrasting different forms of an act – for example, laughter and shaking hands
  • Direct speech used to highlight contrast – feel at home and come again
  • The tone is one of regret – that he learned these false/insincere ways
  • Similes – “like a snake’s bare fangs” – showing that he doesn’t like what he sees
  • Compound words are with the “face” – “home face, office face” etc. – says he learned many faces and emphasizing the falseness around him
  • A theme of the poem is falseness and insincerity
  • Reference is made to crime and corruption
  • Alliteration contributes to the rhyme


  • Doesn’t have a regular rhyme scheme or meter
  • Rhythm is created by the repetition of words and phrases
  • Alliteration also contributes to the rhythm – “goodbye” and “good riddance”
  • Regular sized verse – breaking the narrative sequence
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Once upon a time – Gabriel Okara: Poem Analysis," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/once-upon-a-time-gabriel-okara-poem-analysis/.

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