The poem “Once Upon A Time” by Gabriel Okara explores the stark differences between the behaviors of individuals in the past and the contemporary era. In the bygone days, people exhibited authenticity without any semblance of hypocrisy. Their words and actions were straightforward, devoid of diplomatic pretenses. The poet reflects on a time when sincerity prevailed, contrasting it with the intricate conduct of the modern individual who wears various masks and utters insincere statements.

The poem also laments the fading tradition of genuine hospitality. The poet observes that welcoming a guest or visitor has transformed from a warm reception to an intrusion on one’s finances and personal space. This shift highlights a departure from the openness and generosity characteristic of earlier times.

Furthermore, the latter part of the poem delves into the contrasting nature of children’s innocence and adults’ pretentiousness and cunning ways. The poet expresses deep sorrow over the current state of human behavior, yearning for the purity found in the innocence of children. There is a poignant desire to revert to a time when people exhibited a simpler and more genuine demeanor, free from the pervasive influence of Western materialism.

In essence, “Once Upon A Time” reflects the poet’s poignant reflections on the transformation of human behavior over time and a longing for the sincerity and simplicity that characterized an earlier era.

(a) People change over the years, they become cold hearted and indifferent. With the passage of time, there is a loss of identity from innocence and genuineness to trustworthiness and an uncaring attitude. Comment on this central idea of the poem, ‘Once Upon A Time’ penned by Gabriel Okara.

The central idea of the poem “Once Upon A Time” by Gabriel Okara revolves around the transformative journey of individuals over the years. The poet reflects on the evolution of people from a state of innocence and genuineness to one marked by untrustworthiness and an indifferent attitude. The poem conveys a profound commentary on the impact of time on human nature, emphasizing the loss of identity and warmth as individuals traverse through life.

In the beginning, the poem contrasts the straightforward and sincere nature of people in the past with the complex and insincere behavior of contemporary individuals. The shift from a time when people spoke and acted genuinely, without diplomatic pretenses, to an era where individuals wear masks and speak in a manner detached from their true feelings is evident.

The loss of identity is highlighted through the diminishing tradition of hospitality. Welcoming a guest was once a gesture of warmth and generosity, but the poem suggests that it has now become an intrusion, emphasizing a decline in human compassion and a shift toward a more self-centered and untrustworthy demeanor.

The poet also draws attention to the contrast between the innocence of children and the pretentiousness of adults, further underscoring the idea of a transformation from a pure and genuine state to one marked by cunning and artificiality.

In essence, “Once Upon A Time” serves as a poignant commentary on the profound changes in human behavior over time. It explores the erosion of innocence, genuineness, and warmth, giving way to a cold-hearted and indifferent attitude. The central idea underscores the impact of time on human identity, reflecting a journey from authenticity to a more complex and often untrustworthy existence.

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