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The poem, Ballad of Birmingham by Dudley Randall is a poem about the bombing of the 16th street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963 where, Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14), were killed, as well as 22 other church goers were injured. This poem is an assertion of excellence due to its fabulous use of theme, through the unique way that he uses voice, plot, imagery, characterization and the rhythm of the poem. The theme of Ballad of Birmingham is that hatred can be a terrible thing and can affect the most innocent of people, as well as their loved ones, and can create a hole in the lives of the people left behind. This theme is displayed through the emotion that the author creates through the use three different voices. The first voice herd in the poem is the one of the unknown daughter, who can be assumed to be one of the girls who were killed in the bombing. Her voice expresses the innocence of a child along with the freedom that youth displays. She longs to go out to the freedom march, but do to her mothers fears is convinced to go to church and sing in the choir. Mother dear, may I go downtown Instead of out to play, and march the streets of Birmingham In a freedom march today? The second voice that we are introduced to is the one of the girls loving mother. Randall captures the caring mothers voice perfectly, she uses very caring words and it is apparent that she deeply cares about her daughter like any mother would. No Baby, no, you may not go, for the dogs are fierce and wild, and clubs and horses, guns and jail, arent good for a little child. (Randall 733) The third, and final, voice that the reader hears from is a third person narrator who is not only able to state the facts, and foreshadow the following disaster, but also conveys the pain the

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mother goes through when losing a daughter. For when she heard the explosion, Her eyes grew wet and wild. She raced through the streets of Birmingham calling for her child. (Randall 734) The imagery that the author creates through this stanza is very moving, due to the sorrow, fear, and disbelief that the mother is feeling during those moments of unknowing as well as after she discovers the fate of her daughter, and the rest of her days following this event. Not only is the voice that the poet uses that makes this a piece of excellence, but also Randalls use of rhythm. He sticks to a very obvious rhyming pattern by making ever other line rhyme with each other, with the exception of the last line. She clawed through bits of glass and brick, then lifted out a shoe. O heres the shoe my baby wore, but baby where are you? (Randall 734) this is a great use of rhyme, in a way that is not expected. Through the absence of rhyme, the last line stands out more and gets across the sense of dread that the families of the childrens choir were experiencing since they were not able to find their daughters. Also it creates a feeling of something that should be there but isnt and that the poem should continue on, but it does not. The is a symbol for the missing lives of the four victims, furthermore it creates a pronounced symbol of a life that was cut short too soon, whereas the poem was cut short too soon. The core of Ballad of Birmingham is the characters that Randall is able to develop in such a short amount of time. The two characters that Randal creates on top of develops, are very clearly defined as African Americans, as well as mother and daughter. The daughter is very free spirited, whereas the mother is clearly defined as a religious, family woman. Also it is very clear that the daughter respects her mother greatly. When her mother suggests that she should go sing in the childrens choir, she obeys without any argument. Also she takes the time to dress up to go to the sacred place. Likewise the mother loves her daughter very much, due to her being

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so very distraught when she could not find her daughter, furthermore when she was able to find her shoe, but not able to find her daughter who it belonged to. Ballad of Birmingham by Dudley Randall is a poem that is an assertion of excellence due to its fabulous use of theme, through the unique way that he uses voice, plot, imagery, characterization and the rhythm of the poem. Since it was a poem written in response to the bombing of the 16th street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, where four girls were killed, it is able to invoke a great deal of emotion in the reader. The theme of Ballad of Birmingham is that hatred can be a terrible thing and can affect the most innocent of people, as well as their loved ones, and can create a hole in the lives of the people left behind. Randall was able to clearly get his theme across and create very defined characters, and because of this, Ballad of Birmingham, is a great source of poetic excellence.