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Once Upon A Time & The Woman who speaks to the man who emplo

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by

Stefen Skkanme

on 21 March 2014

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Transcript of Once Upon A Time & The Woman who speaks to the man who emplo

Author:
Gabriel Okara

Background:
Gabriel Okara was born in 1921. He was a Nigerian poet and novelist as well as a large self-educated man. His poetry was based on a series of contrasts and in ' Once upon a time ' this contrast was between African culture and Western society.
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.
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.
‘Feel at home’! ‘Come again’:
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice –
for then I find doors shut on me.
So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say, ‘Goodbye’,
when I mean ‘Good-riddance’;
to say ‘Glad to meet you’,
without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been
nice talking to you’, after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.
Once Upon A Time
The meaning of 'Once upon a time'.
This poem is about the artificiality of relationships and manners prevailing in the present day world. The past, according to the poet, is better than the present; because there was love, sincerity and faithfulness in the past. Now everything has changed. Hence the poet wants to re-live the past.
Meaning of 'The woman speaks to the man who has employed her son'
Leanne McMaster & Stefen Ewers
Once Upon A Time & The Woman who speaks to the man who employs her son.
The woman speaks to the man who employed her son.
Author:

Lorna Goodison

Background:
Lorna Goodison was born ink 1947. She is a Jamaican poet and one of the leading West Indian writers of the generation born after World War II.
Her son was first made known to her
as a sense of unease, a need to cry
for little reasons and a metallic tide
rising in her mouth each morning.
Such signs made her know
That she was not alone in her body.
She carried him full term
tight up under her heart.


She carried him like the poor
carry hope, hope you get a break
or a visa, hope one child go through
and remember you. He had no father.
The man she made him with had more
like him, he was fair-minded
he treated all his children
with equal and unbiased indifference.


She raise him twice, once as mother
Then as father, set no ceiling
On what he could be doctor,
earth healer, pilot take wings.
But now he tells her he is working
for you, that you value him so much
you give him one whole submachine
gun for him alone.


He says you are like a father to him
she is wondering what kind of father
would give a son hot and exploding
death, when he asks him for bread.
She went downtown and bought three
and one-third yards of black cloth
and a deep crowned and veiled hat
for the day he draw his bloody salary.


She has no power over you and this
at the level of earth, what she has
are prayers and a mother’s tears
and at knee city she uses them.
She says psalms for him
she reads psalms for you
she weeps for his soul
her eyewater covers you.


She is throwing a partner
with Judas Iscariot’s mother
the thief on the left-hand side
of the cross, his mother
is the banker, her draw though
is first and last for she still
throwing two hands as mother and
father.
She is prepared, she is done.
Absalom.
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