The tragic poem, “The Ballad of Birmingham,” begins with a young child asking an imploring question to her mother, “May I go downtown instead of out to play” (Randall, 669)?
The author, Dudley Randall, illustrates the conflict and irony between the mother and her child. The mother only wants to protect her child from the dangers that await her, but the child on the other hand, only wants to be a part of the Freedom March in Birmingham, Alabama. “The Ballad of Birmingham” was written about the real life events of the bombing that took place in Birmingham, Alabama at the church of Martin Luther King, Jr by white terrorists. Though the bombing was tragic and resulted in the death of four innocent African American girls and injuring fourteen …show more content…
The child is not frightened, but informs her mother that other children will accompany her to the march to make the country free. The mother tells her again that she cannot go, because she is afraid that guns will be fired; therefore she would not be safe. The mother then tries yet again to deter her daughter from her journey to Birmingham by telling her to go to the church instead where she can sing in the children’s choir, safe from harm.
After telling her daughter she can go to the church, the mother gives her a bath in rose petal water, dresses her in her best clothes, and even gives her a pair of gloves to wear and little white shoes. This is the most ironic part of the intire poem because the mother believes she is sending her to a safe place, but is unaware of the fact, that she is doing the exact opposite and is sending her child to her doom. Once her daughter has left, she smiles, but it is the last smile to come upon her face. The gives the reader a sense that the young girl dressed all in white, is about to come to her demise. Because if the young girl was going to a safe place, this would not be the last time that her mother smiled.
The ending of the poem is most tragic. In the safety of her home, the mother hears an explosion, and races through the streets of Birmingham. Frightened as can be, she calls for her child; only to remain unheard by the young girl. Looking through debris from the rubble of the church, the mother finds a
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In exploring this poem the tone of the opening line – “Abortions will not let you forget” – can be viewed as regretful and as offering a kind of warning. As we move through the poem the tone of line four, might be called literally imaginative, as she say; “The singers and workers that never handled the air”. While in lines 5-6 the tone seems at first brutally honest and realistic and then affectionate and realistic. As she continues to lines 7-10, as well as in many lines of this poem, the mother expresses herself as a person who is fully familiar with all the small, subtle realities of parenting. She even expresses her attitudes toward her abortions even more complex.
Even though she was at her house, she still hurried to get to school for the feeling of satisfaction and safety instead of staying at her house which is filled with fear and discomfort. Barry uses the main character’s actions to convey that the narrator only feels comfort when she is at school and that she always urges to be there. Secondly, in the passage that follows, Lynda Barry writes the narrator’s thoughts to show that just the sighting of someone’s safe haven can relieve panic. “ All I knew was a feeling of panic, like the panic that strikes kids when they realize they are lost. That feeling eased the moment I turned the corner and saw the dark outline of my school at the top of the hill” (Barry 1). The quotes conveys that just when the protagonist sees the outline of her school the feeling of discomfort simply disappears. The narrator’s mind finally went calm, as shown through the thoughts that went through her head. Thirdly, in the next excerpt, the author uses first person narrative to express the thinking of the central figure of narrative. “It’s only thinking about it now, 28 years later, that
The narrator comes into the kitchen to see a huge mess and her mom in the middle of it. As she is walking in a piece of the debris almost hits her in the head. “I ducked as a piece of tile flew at me”. This already raises the tension in the story because the narrator has already almost been injured by a flying piece of tile. From the mothers point of view nothing is wrong and waves it off as it is was nothing which angers the narrator even more. “ I pushed past her to get the broom, but she grabbed me by the elbow. A feeling of nervous ness swelled inside me.” If that is not enough the narrators mother decides its the perfect time to tell her that in the next few days she will be leaving her mother and going to New Mexico for 3 months. “ But what am I supposed to do? That’s three whole months” The daughter is steamed because she is going to have to move again to a new place were she has not friends, but from the mothers point of view she is sending her child away so she can be safe while she going off to work in a unfamiliar place. The mother cannot see the situation from her daughters perspective that is why the passage progresses the way it does. It eventually leads to them fighting and the daughter locking herself in her room. If only the mother could have seen the daughters perspective then maybe she would have taken a different approach leading to a different more positive
The poem “Mother Who Gave Me Life”, written by Gwen Harwood explores the extremely personal relationship between a daughter and her mother. It focus’ on the universal role of women as mothers and nurturers throughout time. It explores the intimate moments and memories between a daughter and her mother, and gives us as the reader an insight into the relationship between the two.
The last line in the poem “and since they were not the ones dead, turned to their own affairs” lacks the emotions the reader would expect a person to feel after a death of a close family member. But instead, it carries a neutral tone which implies that death doesn’t even matter anymore because it happened too often that the value of life became really low, these people are too poor so in order to survive, they must move on so that their lives can continue. A horrible sensory image was presented in the poem when the “saw leaped out at the boy’s hand” and is continued throughout the poem when “the boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh…the hand was gone already…and that ended it”, this shows emphasis to the numbness the child felt. The poem continues with the same cold tone without any expression of emotion or feelings included except for pain, which emphasizes the lack of sympathy given. Not only did the death of this child placed no effect on anyone in the society but he was also immediately forgotten as he has left nothing special enough behind for people to remember him, so “since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs”. This proves that life still carries on the same way whether he is present or not, as he is insignificant and that his death
In 1963 a bomb went of in a church in Birmingham that killed 4 little girls. And a poem called ‘Ballad of Birmingham’ (written in 1969), and states some things that happened that day. In stanza 5 the author writes “She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair. And bathered rose petal sweet, And drawn white gloves an her small brown hands, and white shoes on her feet. This discribes on of the young black
“But you may go to church instead” (Randall,15) a mother thought her child would be safer in such a sacred place rather than being a part of the march that just might have been safer. The poem “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall, has multiple themes, but the one that sticks out is violence, which is because it is so powerful and brings the whole poem together. There is also a lot of imagery shown through this whole poem that can put a horrible picture in your head because of how sad the poem really is.
In '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, a style which gives it an intimate tone and provides insight to the feelings of the characters. Throughout the poem the child is eager to go into Birmingham and march for freedom with the people there. The mother, on the other hand, is very adamant that the child should not go because it is dangerous. It is obvious that the child is concerned about the events surrounding the march and wants to be part of the movement. The child expresses these feelings in a way
In the text, “The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963” the author makes it projects that the bombing was bad. The author include that horrific events such as men and woman covered in blood people covered in smoke. The family was shocked that someone bombed a church where people should be safe. This all happened because of racism.
She finally was in a place where that she felt that she personally could make a change. The sight of the first grade children running around would’ve drove some to insanity, but it was quite the opposite. She describes the scene as a swirling pool of entropy (disorganization). There was chaos and an absolute mess in every direction that you looked. Now who would sign up for hours of relentless screaming, yelling, and fighting? She saw the mess as an opportunity to shape the minds of the kids. Each and every one of those kids had the potential to something great. Those first graders were our future doctors and engineers. Only no one could see it behind the screaming and
In the poem “Ballad of Birmingham”, by Dudley Randall, many different things can be analyzed. The difference in the two translations; one being a literal translation, telling the true meaning of the poem, and the other being a thematic translation, which tells the author’s theme and symbolism used in his/her work. Another thing that all poets have in common is the usage of poetic devices; such as similes, metaphors, and personification.
The Ballad of Birmingham resembles a traditional ballad in that it tells a story in a song-like manner. The didactic tone seeks to teach us something; in this case it’s the theme of needless destruction. There are many devices the author uses to create such a tone and to tell such a story.
Dudley Randall’s “Ballad of Birmingham” is a look into the effects of racism on a personal level. The poem is set in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The tone of the title alludes to the city of Birmingham as a whole. The poem gives the reader, instead, a personal look into a tragic incident in the lives of a mother and her daughter. The denotation of the poem seems to simply tell of the sadness of a mother losing her child. The poem’s theme is one of guilt, irony, and the grief of losing a child. The mother feels responsible for the death of her child. The dramatic irony of the mother’s view of church as being a “safe haven” for her child is presented to the reader through the mother’s insistence that the young girl
Ballad of Birmingham, written by the poet Dudley Randall relives a tragic moment in time in which four little girls died when a church was purposefully exploded. This poem is based on the incident that occurred in Birmingham, Alabama. This poem vividly shows the perspective of a mother losing her child. Most of the poem includes a mother daughter discussion regarding the participation of the freedom march. The mother explains to her daughter that it is far too dangerous for her to be participate, therefore she sends her daughter to church, where she believes that she would be safe. The mother later hears of the explosion and runs over to find out that her daughter had been killed by noticing her daughter’s shoe on the ground. In Ballad of Birmingham, Dudley Randall uses voice, imagery, and sound to show how the tragic event revolves around a theme of racism/mother’s love, which most readers can empathize to.
In April and May of 1963, Birmingham, Alabama was a focal point for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was home to one of the most violent cells of the KKK and violence against black people was so commonplace (especially in the form of explosives) that it was referred to as “Bombingham.” It was these conditions that lead Martin Luther King to arrive and organize a series of non-violent protests in the city. These protests were relatively low key and weren’t very well attended. This was due to the fact that political rivalries between King’s organization, the SCLC, and other civil right’s organizations like CORE and the NAACP. However, the Birmingham protests soon became headlines due to the response of the city’s police