Ballad of Birmingham: A Poem Commemorates

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"The Ballad of Birmingham", written by Dudley Randall, is a poem that commemorates the bombing of a black church in Alabama in 1963, at the height of the civil rights movement. The poem is written in a traditional narrative style form of a ballad, though the subject matter is far from traditional. The poem tells the story of a woman who doesn't let her daughter go to play in town because she feels that it is too dangerous, but instead sends her to church where she feels that her daughter will be safe. The tragic irony of the story is that while the little girl is at church singing in the choir, the church is bombed and she is killed. The author of the poem uses different literary techniques to accentuate the ironies of the story told. The poem is written with a regular rhyme scheme and in iambic tetrameter that makes the poem sound very nursery rhyme like. It seems as though the author made this poem sound very child-like and innocent to contrast the seriousness of what is discussed in the text. I was actually shocked at the outcome of the poem because I thought that the content of the poem would be as light- hearted as the way it sounded. I felt that the poem was more effective and emotion stirring because it was so unpredictable. I didn't know what to expect until I actually read the final two lines of the poem. The nursery rhyme effect that the author puts forth is also meant to exemplify the sense of innocence associated with the little girl. If this poem didn't sound as if it were meant to be sung by children out in the yard playing games, it couldn't have possibly done justice to the idea of absolute innocence of this young girl at church. Because the author does such a good job of portraying the purity of this little black child, it shows how evil an act this bombing was.
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