Essay about “Ballad of Birmingham” Explication

Words: 922
Pages: 4

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 …show more content…
This sense of security brings a smile to the mother’s face, and it would be the mother’s last smile.
The seventh stanza has a tone of fear and anxiety. When the mother hears the explosion, she seems to automatically know something is wrong. She becomes frantic and tears fill her eyes as she ran through Birmingham shouting her little girl’s name. Randall’s metaphor of the mother’s “wet and wild” eyes brings to mind a woman frantically searching for her child that she loves so dearly. The explosion is almost audible, one empathizes with the mother. One can visualize her running through the crowded streets of Birmingham. The eighth and final stanza is one of misery and woe. The mother digs through all rubble from the explosion only to find her daughter’s shoe. She knows her daughter could still be alive if she had let her go to the Freedom March; she feels directly responsible for her daughter’s death. It is hard enough to lose a child at all, but to feel at fault for his or her death must be sickening. It is easy to think of all the people that died as another number to remember, but it is heart-breaking when you think of the individuals that went through this kind of pain because of