“Once Upon A Time” and “I Shall Return” explore two black men’s past lives and their lives now. Their poems are both emphasising the idea of time passing. “I Shall Return” and “Once Upon A Time” both focus on the idea of returning to something in their childhood.
Okara and McKay both use a range of language in their poems to make their poems unforgettable. “I Shall Return” focus on the idea of going home back to his childhood. “To love and laugh and watch with wonder-eyes” highlights the fact that he had an enjoyable time growing up. The alliteration in this line makes it stand out. Sonnets were used for love, and McKay expresses his love for his village in his sonnet. He describes the scenery of Jamaica using the alliteration “sapphire skies”, “blue-black smoke” and “brown blades”. These emphasises the fact that the country is exotic and showing it is a clam and natural place.
“Once Upon A Time” explores the honesty of people and how it has changed. “Once upon a time, son, they used to laugh with their hearts” suggests in the past there were honest and genuine people. The word “son” indicates that he is talking directly to his son, making it conversational. “But now” shows the people have suddenly changed and are no longer genuine. The adversative conjunction “but” gives a sudden change from past to present. It also gives the stanza more attention.
These two men both show emotion through the language they use, both sad and joyful. It makes the poems more interesting and unforgettable.