Ballad of Birmingham: Overview

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This week's reading assignment was about external form in poetry; the way a poem is fashioned and recognized. Of all the poems assigned this week the one that stood out to me the most was Dudley Randall's "Ballad of Birmingham". The poem tells about a young girl who asks her mother if she can go downtown for a parade and when the mother refuses to let her go, saying it is too dangerous, she sends her daughter to church. The daughter dies however, in an explosion that took place at the church. Despite my great disinterest in poetry, the emotional aspect of this poem really drew me in and got me to continue reading. The rhyme sequence had a lot to do with this. Every other line in the poem rhymes, making the read more easy and enjoyable because the sounds were familiar. By organizing the poem to sound like a conversation between the mother and daughter, the author adds movement and tone to the poem, which also adds validity, making it more realistic and understandable. Another poem whose rhyme sequence and imagery caught my attention was Henry Constable’s “My lady’s presence makes the roses red”. Constable uses an 8-6 rhyme structure; the first eight lines state a generalization or proposition and then next six lines give a response. This type of poem has only a few familiar sounds, making the read easy, clear, and understandable. Overall the readings assigned this week really helped me better understand poetry and how to interpret and understand it.
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