Compare/Contrast Poems

Topics: Poetry, African American, Poetic form Pages: 3 (1206 words) Published: September 25, 2010

In Dudley Randall’s poem “Ballad of Birmingham” and Langston Hughes’s poem “Mother to son” are two poems of two different mothers wanting the best for their child. In the poem “Ballad of Birmingham,” Dudley Randall illustrates a conflict between a child who wishes to march for civil rights and a mother who wishes only to protect her child. Much of this poem is read as dialogue between a mother and a child in a way that paints a picture of both character’s feelings. “Ballad of Birmingham” follows the metrical structure of a traditional folk ballad. Ballads utilize the ballad stanza which consists of four lines that rhyme in an abcb rhyme scheme. In other words, in each stanza, the second and fourth lines rhyme, while the first and third lines do not. The metrical, rhythmical pattern of the ballad decides how many syllables will be stressed in each of those four lines; the first and third lines of each stanza will contain four emphasized syllabic stresses, while the second and fourth will each contain three. Repeating lines or refrains also appear as stock features in ballads, and “Ballad of Birmingham” offers such repetition in two forms. First of all, the stanzas that document the mother and daughter’s question-and-answer session quickly construct a formula to be followed, so that we can predict what is likely to come next in this conversation between the two; we know that the daughter will ask to go march, give a reason why she should be allowed, and that the mother will say no. The form that “no” will take appears as the poem’s only real refrain and is its second instance of repetition: “No, baby, no, you may not go,” the mother says each time her daughter poses the question.

In Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son,” A mother empowers her son with words of wisdom that also captures the reader. Langston Hughes' poem, "Mother to Son" is reminiscent of the well-known expression "let's have a father to son chat"; however, in this case, the...
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