Unit 1 – Poem – Once Upon a Time
PART – A
I. One Mark Questions
1.Who is the speaker of the poem?
Answer: c) father
2.What is the relationship between the narrator and the listener?
a) Father and son
b) Mother and daughter
c) Poet and audience
Answer: a) Father and son
3.What do you mean by “laugh with their teeth”?
a) laugh with emotions
b) laugh without emotions
c) genuine laugh
Answer: b) laugh without emotions
4.What does the poet long for?
c) old age
Answer: a) sincerity
5.What are „fangs‟ referred to?
a) tongue of a snake
b) teeth of a snake
c) body of a snake
Answer: b) teeth of a snake
6.What is „cocktail face‟?
a) face with mixed emotions
b) face with false emotions
c) face with true emotions
Answer: a) face with mixed emotions
7.“I have learned to wear many faces like dresses”.
What is the figure of speech employed here?
Answer: c) simile
8.What has the poet learnt?
a) wear many dresses
b) change his face
c) change his job
Answer: b) change his face
9.What is meant by “muting things”?
a)real emotions in silenced stage
b)emotions that he cannot control
c)people who are silent
Answer: a)real emotions in silenced stage
10 What is the meaning of „unlearn‟?
a) learn newly b) get rid of learning c) learn in silence
Answer: b) get rid of learning
PART – B
II. Very Short Answer
1.What is meant by “search behind my shadow”?
- “Search behind my shadow” means “people are hypocritical and they don’t mean what they say”
2.Explain “ice block – cold eyes”.
- With the help of the phrase “ice block-cold eyes” the poet explains that every adult has the eyes which lack the feeling of warmth or endearing expression.
3.What doesthe poet desire to unlearn and relearn? why?
- He desires to unlearn all the hypocritical behaviour and relearn the way to express real human feelings without any concealment. This is because he doesn’t like the fake way of living.
4.How is the poet‟s laugh reflected in the mirror?
- The fake laugh of the poet just with his teeth is reflected as a snake’s laugh with its venomous teeth.
5.“Once upon a time son they used to laugh with their eyes”.
- Every adult in his childhood used to laugh from his heart genuinely.
PART – C
III. Short Answer
1.Mention the qualities the child and the adult in the poem symbolise?
- The child symbolises the quality of genuineness, the adult symbolises the quality of being fake.
2.What does the poet mean when he says „good – bye‟? Why?
- When the poet says “goodbye” he means that he is happy to get rid of him because that person is an unwanted one for the poet.
3.Pick out the expressions that indicate conflicting ideas in the poem.
- i. laugh with their eyes
- ii. shake hands without hearts
- iii. like a fixed portrait smile
- iv. hands search my empty pockets
- v. to unlearn all these muting things
4.What happens to the poet when he visits someone for the third time? What must be the reason?
- When the poet visits someone for the third time he is not welcomed by the other. The reason is that the other has not invited the poet whole heartedly.
5.What pleasantries does the poet use to fake cordiality?
- The poet uses pleasantries like “Feel at home”, and “come again” to fake cordiality.
PART – D
IV. Write in detail.
1.The poem is nothing but a criticism of modern life – Justify the statement.
- The poet Okara in his poem ‘Once Upon a Time’ painfully condemns the duplicity displayed by adults both in their words and actions. The poet laments about the negative changes that have come upon the modern society. In the modern world people do not have real laughter; they have only fake laughter. Their eyes do not show any feeling when they laugh. The handshakes have become mere duplicity. People do not have the warmth when they shake hands with others. The words of welcome come only from the lips, not from the heart. Nowadays people change their faces as they change their dresses. The facial expressions change according to the situation. Thus the poet criticises modern life.
2.“Face is the index of the mind”. Does this adage concur with the views of the poet?
- Gabriel Okara (born 1921) is a Nigerian poet and novelist. His verse has been translated into several languages. Okara’s typical poem transits from everyday reality to moments of delight and moves back to reality making a complete circle. The poet Okara in his poem ‘Once Upon a Time’ painfully condemns the duplicity displayed by adults both in their words and actions. The poet laments about the negative changes that have come upon modern society. It is an old saying
- ‘Face is the index of the mind’. It means that the face can reflect the real mind of a person. But because of the changes brought into the modern world, this proverb has lost its meaning. People laugh concealing their real intention. People’s handshakes do not come from their hearts. So the face does not show reality. In the same way, people give words of welcome only from the lips. In the modern world, people change their faces as they change their dress. Now, in no way does the face show the real mind of a person.