In the poem Ballad of Birmingham, by Dudley Randall, written

In 1969, Mr. Randall uses of irony to describes the events of the mothers decision,

And also her concern for the welfare of her darling little child. It seems odd that this

Child would even know what a freedom march is, but this would be considered

Normal back in the early 1960's, when Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. had rallies and

Freedom marches to free the African American people from discrimination and

Segregation (Hunter 6). It also seems very ironic that the young child is acting like

An adult in this particular situation (Hunter 12). I think the mother would be the one

Who would want to got to the march to free her people, not the child. In the poem

"Ballad of Birmingham", by Dudley Randall, written in 1969, Mr. Randall uses tone

And irony to describe the events of the mothers decisions, and as well as her concern

For her child's well being.

In the first stanza irony is used in order to make reading the

Poem more interesting. The situation in this first stanza is also very important. The

Little child is in a desperate situation and wants to help better the lives of the African

Americans. Randall also focuses on specific culture here. The speaker is allowing

The reader to make a mental picture of one specific march in Birmingham (Hunter

17). But, you know as well as I, that with peace marches and rallies comes violence

And hostility. This is exactly what the little girls mother is afraid of, this is why she

Will not let her go to the march. It also seems weird that her mother is so sure that

Going to church, instead of going to the march, will be the best thing for her. (Hunter

19-20). Typically, 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

(Hunter 21). Something else that strikes me funny is that her mother dresses her in

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 (Hunter 26). There is also a

Shift in dialogue here in the fifth stanza(Hunter 27). Here the narrator starts to take

Over. The narrator's tone shows the reader the pride and joy that the mother takes in

Her child's appearance (Hunter 29). It also gives the reader some sense of

Reassurance and cleanliness as the mother is brushing her daughters night-dark hair.

She also dresses her in the same fashion (Hunter 36). 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

(Hunter 41).

Something else that is ironic comes about in the sixth stanza.

The mother smiled to know her child was in the sacred place, but that smile was the

Last smile to come upon her face. This gives the reader a sense of what is about to

Happen(Hunter 44). This stanza is ironic because if the mother thinks her daughter is

Going to be in a safe place, why would this be the last time she would ever smile?

The figures of speech that Randall uses in this poem also give

The poem a touch of irony. He uses two types of figures of speech, and he uses them

Very well. First, he uses the metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which

One thing is likened to another, different thing by being spoken of as if it were that

Other; implied comparison. He uses this in stanza five to hint to the reader that the

Child is an African American female(Hunter 47). He also uses it in stanza seven to

Show how angry, afraid and worried her mother gets when she hears the explosion.

The other figure of speech that Randall uses is repetition. He uses the saying, "No,

Baby, no, you may not go", in stanza two and then again in stanza four. This saying

Expresses the worries and fear that the mother has for her little girl.

Another big factor in this poem is the use of tone. First, there is a

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(Hunter 55). Secondly, there is the tone of concern for her child's safety. Her

Mother tells her that there are dogs, clubs and hoses. These things were used on

Protesters and marchers to control the crowds when they grew too large and had

Gotten out of hand. Next, there is the 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 (Hunter 59-61).

But, if you notice, 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(Hunter 64). The mother doesn't know what to

Do. 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. I don't know how, but for some reason her mother feels that

Something has happened to her child, so she runs through the streets of Birmingham,

Alabama calling for her child. She clawed through bits of glass and brick, then lifted

Out her child's shoe. From this finding the mother knows that she has lost her

Daughter forever. In conclusion, I personally think that this poem was well written

For the simple fact that Randall is not afraid to confront the problems that these two

Races had between them. He describes things that had happened in this time period

To get his point across vividly to the reader. With that said, I leave you with one last

Question: If her mother had let her go to the march like she asked, would she still be


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17 July 2014. Author: Criticism