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ENGLISH STUDIES POETRY

THE BALLAD OF BIRMINGHAM BY DUDLEY RANDALL

The Development of Ballad (History)


Originally ballads were songs. They were often sung by wandering minstrels, who were eagerly listened to during fairs, within castle walls and at feasts and entertainments Ballads are tales which touch upon history and legend, love and passion, crimes and battles, human conflict and even supernatural events. Ballads were most popular from the 14th to 17th century.

Characteristics of the Ballad


The ballad is usually written in four line stanzas. Its dramatic question and answer or dialogue form is often used to develop the story in a simple straightforward manner and to arouse the emotions of the listeners. A common characteristic of the ballad is the repetition of lines or phrases at regular intervals. This is known as the refrain. The refrain, which probably developed from the oral tradition, helps to give the narration a smooth flow and serves to intensify its dramatic elements. The narrator remains passive, because the ballad is most concerned with action. traditional ballad structure. The second and fourth line of each stanza rhyme.

BACKGROUND OF THE POET


Dudley Randall was an African- American poet who founded the Broadside Press in 1965 which published many leading African-American writers. Randalls most famous poem is The Ballad of Birmingham written during the 1960s about the 1963 bombing of the church Martin Luther King belonged to in Birmingham, Alabama. Randall is recognized for his commitment to publishing the works of young black poets. In the Ballad of Birmingham, Randall refers to the infamous Alabama incident in which four girls were killed in a bomb blast set by white terrorists. Randalls poem

BACKGROUND OF THE POET


features a girl whose mother forbids her to attend a rally; fearing for her daughters safety, she encourages the girl to attend church instead, where the youngster is killed by the bombing. As a poet and a publisher, Dudley Randall helped revitalize the black poetry in America. The several anthologies of black poetry edited by randall are critically well received and brought attention to young black literary talents. Dudley also had a penchant for the traditional French ballade, in which he incorporated themes relevant to

BACKGROUND OF THE POET


The African-American experience. Most of Randalls works explore racial and historical themes while combining ideas and forms from western traditional poetry. Some of his works include, For Malcolm a collection of poems written by various authors in memory of Malcolm X. His own works are Cities Burning, Love You, More to Remember, and After the Killing Dudley Randall received the First Poet Laureate of Detroit in 1981. His poems are characterized by simplicity and realism.

OVERVIEW OF BALLAD OF BIRMINGHAM


The Ballad of Birmingham, is written in a conversation mode in which the exchange between a mother and her young daughter is told in a poetry form. The historical event that underpins The Ballad of Birmingham is the actual 1963, bombing of the Martin Luther King Baptist church by white supremist. 4 girls were killed in the tragedy.

FORM AND STRUCTURE OF THE BALLAD OF BIRMINGHAM


This poem is written in the traditional ballad form. The ballad is written in a four-line stanza and the second and the fourth lines rhyme.
Mother dear, may I go downtown Instead of out to play And march the streets of Birmingham In a Freedom March today

The ballad tells of an event/story which in this case is the events before and leading to the bombing.

LITERARY DEVICES
The Symbol of the Church/Irony the mother smiled to know her child, was in that sacred place. the church was a representation of safety and security but instead it took the life of the little girl. The tone of this poem is one of immense sadness/ poignancy. (the mothers heartfelt sorrow and possible regret and guilt)

THEMES
Racial tension and segregation (bigger picture) Mother-daughter relationship

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