Dudley Randall's Ballad of Birmingham
Dudley Randall's Ballad of Birmingham gives a poetic account of the bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963. The poem was written in ballad form to convey the mood of the mother to her daughter. The author also gives a graphic account of what the 1960's were like. Irony played a part also in the ballad showing the church as the warzone and the freedom march as the safer place to be.
Writing the poem in ballad form gave a sense of mood to each paragraph. The poem starts out with an eager little girl wanting to march for freedom. The mother explains how treacherous the march could become showing her fear for her daughters life. The mood swings back and forth until finally the mother's fear overcomes the child's desire and the child is sent to church where it will be safe. The tempo seems to pick up in the last couple of paragraphs to emphasize the mothers distraught on hearing the explosion and finding her child's shoe.
The poem also focuses on what life was like in the sixties. It tells of black freedom marches in the South how they effected one family. It told of how our peace officers reacted to marches with clubs, hoses, guns, and jail. They were fierce and wild and a black child would be no match for them. The mother refused to let her child march in the wild streets of Birmingham and sent her to the safest place that no harm would become of her daughter.
Going to church in the ghetto in Birmingham was probably the safest place a mother could send her child. But this is where the irony takes place. The irony makes the church the warzone and place of destruction while the march was the safest place to be. The child was depicted as combed hair, freshly bathed, with white gloves, and white shoes, which is also ironic. The mother had sent an angel dressed in white to a firestorm from hell called church. The mother was completely sure that her daughter was safe until she heard the explosion.
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