Colonial poems Analytical Essay

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This essay seeks to analyze the two acclaimed poems Tiny Feet by Gabriela Mistral and Once Upon a Time by Garbriel Okara under the lens of post-colonialism. To be able to fully compare these two poems with the effects of post-colonialism this essay will discuss the literal form of the poems looking not only on the words but the context of the words as penned by the authors. Lastly I will display how both authors use their poems to shed light on the enduring effects of post-colonialism.According to ‘Definitions.net’ Post-colonialism is an event when the colonizers leave the colonized nation.

This is an event when the conquerors leave the conquered place. What the colonizer did was to sacrifice the future of the colonized, so they could obtain more and become wealther. When the colonizers arrived in the colonized region, they taught the colonized their way of culture. Since the colonizers acted harshly to the people colonized, when the colonizers left, the colonized country can’t let go of the colonized mentality. These are just some ways the effects of post – colonialism can be found in these poems. Tiny Feet was written by Gabriela Mistral in 1945, and she wanted to write the poem so that she could speak for the defenseless, humble, and poor. As mentioned by Gabriela Mistral’s “Tiny Feet” analysis essay on studymoose.com’. She wrote this in Vicuna, Chile according to melodicverses.com. When writing the poem she noticed child prostitution happening as stated in ‘prezi.com’. The poem discusses the child; the hope and the future. The person speaking in the poem is a native of the country, a part of the colonized. This could be inferred because the speaker does care for the child unlike other people. The speaker notices the child, and is angered by this because the other people don’t notice or do anything to show their care for the child. The child symbolized the future and hope because adise from children being the future for many people, it’s also described in this poem “that where you step, you leave

A blossom of bright light” implying that whatever the child does, indeed have an impact on the future, and is a hope and future for all of the people. In the poem, it shows childhood and suffering, and the harsh reality of the real world to the child. It shows this in the first and second stanza “A child’s tiny feet, Blue, blue with cold, How can they see and not protect you? Oh, my God! Tiny wounded feet, Bruised all over by pebbles,” This implies that the child does not have shoes or any sort of protection, and the feet are not just freezing, but they’re also wounded. In the specific line “Abused by snow and soil” It shows that the “bruises” come from both the animals and especially the people. Because children are our future and hope, this meant that the child was a source of opportunity. The people are not minding and instead destroying the child, our future. Us, people don’t give it attention, protection or anything. Tiny Feet is a poem that shows just how cruel the colonizer can treat the people who were colonized. In a post – colonialism lens, people didn’t mind the child, which meant that the colonizers didn’t care for the future of the colonized nation. In the lines “tiny wounded feet” and “Abused by snow and soil” the colonized future was being affected badly and could possibly be removed because of the people, which were the colonizers.

One of the things that came up when the author was writing this poem was child prostitution, which the author had noticed whie making this poem. Child prostitution can be further symbolized as to how the colonizers took everything, from the colonized place including its’ possible happy future, and only traded this with the colonized for so little. This was showed because of prostitution; which is an exchange. This showed that the colonizers were personal gratification because the colonizers wanted everything for themselves. Due to the colonizers being pesonally grantified, they traded they left the child or the future to continue to be hurt, while the people or colonizers were focusing on improving their own lives. So in post – colonialism, the colonized’ future was lost and became terrible. Once Upon Time was written by Gabriel Okara during 1964. He wrote this poem in Yenagoa, Nigeria. In this poem he wanted to write what happend if the past culture of africa was combined with western culture. Because during 1963 was the time Nigeria got it’s independence from Britain. The poem mentions that the father yearns for the past. This is evident throughout the whole poem because it is constantly comparing both the past and the present.

Throughout the poem, it shows that before people used to act genuinely and sincerely, people used to say things with the intetion of saying them. Now people wear “masks” or false identities, and say things that they don’t really mean, but are instead words for a certain situation. In fact the parent knows this and does this himself so he decideds to ask his son to teach him, even while knowing it’s almost impossible. This is why the father yearns for the past. Once Upon A Time showed different effects of post – colonialism, specifically the loss of innocence and the fact the people who were colonized wear masks, they are no longer themselves.

This was presented in the poem by “I have learned to wear many faces like dresses – homeface, officeface, streetface, hostface, cocktail face, with all their conforming smiles.” This shows that the father wore different face-like dresses to hide himself, which means he wore multiple masks for different scenarios. Putting on masks is an effect of post – colonialism, because durinng the colonized era, the colonized people were focused too much on swaying the conquers. If the colonized people were incapable to impress the colonizers, they would be punished. This is why, even with the colonizers gone, during post – colonialism, the citizens who were colonized still have that fear, and continue wearing masks which represent having a false identity.

To conclude both Tiny Feet and Once Upon A Time show the effects of post – colonialism by showing what has happened to the colonized nation, when the colonizers leave.While these two are very different poems that show different effects of post – colonialism, they both show that the colonizers do things for personal grantification and they have become too individualistic and materialistic to the point that they don’t care for the future of the people that belong to the colonized. The colonizer believed it was better to make their personal country thrive, while sacrificing the original future of the colonized, istead of the colonized being properus in the future the colonizers took that future for themselves. And that people had to start wearing masks, lose their identity in the process, and their future or “child”. These are the effects of post colonialism to people, that was shown in these two poems.


  • Definitions.net – Definition of post-colonialism
  • Study Moose – Analysis of “Tiny Feet” by Gabriela Mistral
  • Prezi – Analysis of “Tiny Feet” by Gabriela Mistral
  • Poetry Foundation – Analysis of Gabriela Mistral’s poem “What Hope Belongs to Thee?” (related to the theme of hope in “Tiny Feet”)
  • Poetry Foundation – Article on the oral tradition in African poetry (relevant to understanding Okara’s work)

Cite this paper

Colonial poems Analytical Essay. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/colonial-poems/



What is colonial poetry?
Colonial poetry refers to the literary works produced during the colonial period, which spans from the 16th to the 19th century. It often reflects the cultural, social, and political realities of the time, and is characterized by its exploration of themes such as nature, religion, and identity.
Who is America's greatest colonial poet?
Some believe that America's greatest colonial poet is Anne Bradstreet, who wrote about religious and personal topics in her poems. Others believe that Phillis Wheatley, who wrote about slavery and freedom, is America's greatest colonial poet.
Who was the first colonial poet?
The first colonial poet was Anne Bradstreet.
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