Friday, March 02, 2012

analysis of ballad of birmingham


On the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama September 15, 1963. Died that day were 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. God bless their souls. 

By Dudley Randall
"Mother dear, may I go downtown
instead of out to play,
and march the streets of Birmingham
in a Freedom March today?"

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
for the dogs are fierce and wild,
and clubs and hoses, guns and jails
ain't good for a little child."

"But, mother, I won't be alone.
Other children will go with me,
and march the streets of Birmingham
to make our country free."

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
for I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
and sing in the children's choir."

She has combed and brushed her nightdark hair,
and bathed rose petal sweet,
and drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
and white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know her child
was in the sacred place,
but that smile was the last smile
to come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
then lifted out a shoe.
"O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
but, baby, where are you?"

In 1962 Randall became interested in Boone House, a black cultural center which had been founded by Margaret Danner in Detroit. Every Sunday Randall and Danner would read their own work to audiences at Boone House. Over the years the two authors collected a group of poems which became the first major publication of Broadside Press, Poem Counterpoem (1966). In "The Ballad of Birmingham" Randall establishes racial progress as a kind of blossoming, as he recounts the incident, based on a historical event of the bombing in 1963 of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s church by white terrorists. Eight quatrains portray one girl's life and death. (Four girls actually died in the real bombing.) When the daughter in the poem asks permission to attend a civil rights rally, the loving and fearful mother refuses to let her go. Allowed to go to church instead, the daughter dies anyway. Thus, there is no sanctuary in an evil world, Randall seems to say, and one may face horror in the street as well as in the church. After folk singer Jerry Moore read the poem in a newspaper, he set it to music, and Randall granted him permission to publish the tune with the lyrics.

Racism- the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination.

a conflict between a child who wishes to march for civil rights and a mother who wishes only to protect her child

when Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. had rallies and freedom marches to free the African American people from discrimination and segregation

  1. Consists of eight, four-line stanza
  2. Follow the metrical structure of a traditional folk ballad
  3. A ballad is a poem that usually tells a story that is similar to a folktale. It is often written 
  4. in quatrains, and usually in lines that are iambic trimeter.  
  1. In lines six and seven, the words “fierce,” “wild,” “clubs,” “hoses,” and “guns” all conjure up images of fights and riots. 
  2. In stanza five, the images shift to those of a pure and innocent nature with the words “rose petal sweet.”
Alliteration in used in the following examples: “for,” “fear,” and “fire” (14) and “wet” and “wild” 

 Assonance is used in the repeated line “No, baby, no, you may not go,” (5,13) with the long “o” sound. Assonance is used again in line 21 with “smiled” and “child.”

metaphors to effectively describe the mother preparing her child to go to church. 
  1. The child’s hair color is described as “night-dark” in direct contrast with her “white gloves” and “white shoes.” 
  2. He also uses metaphor to describe her scent after bathing as “rose petal sweet.

  1. It also seems very ironic that the young child is acting like an adult in this particular situation. I think the mother would be the one who would want to got to the march to free her people, not the child.
  2. a church is to be a very safe and sacred place where no-one would imagine a bombing or any other type of violence to happen. What is ironic about this is that going to church turns out to be the worst place for her to be.
  3. her mother dresses her daughter in her best clothes to go to church with her. What is ironic here is that she ended up wearing them to her funeral instead.
  4. She tries to dress her all in white, which is the symbol for purity. But no matter how hard the mother tries to have her daughter conform to the "whites", they are ultimately the ones who kill her
  5. The mother smiled to know her child was in the sacred place, but that smile was the
  6. Last smile to come upon her face because if the mother thinks her daughter is going to be in a safe place. This gives the reader a sense of what is about to happen, why would this be the last time she would ever smile?

  1. Tone of innocence in the first stanza (Hunter 51). The young child tries to act nice and innocent to her mother, in the case that her mother might let her go to the march
  2. Tone of joy in the fifth stanza and in the first half of the sixth stanza. Her mother takes pride and joy in getting her daughter ready to go to church. She is also joyful that her daughter is going to church instead of going to the march.
  3. In the seventh stanza that tone of joy immediately turns to grief and loneliness. The move from the sixth to the seventh stanza is when the explosion occurs. The mother doesn't know what to do. 
  4. The mothers tone in the last two lines of the poem gives the reader a feeling of grief and guilt. The word baby the mother uses implies the mothers affection for her lost daughter.


No comments:

Post a Comment