Study Guide

Ballad of Birmingham Speaker

By Dudley Randall

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In the first half of the poem, we have two speakers: the mother and the daughter go back and forth in a dialogue that reveals much about the threats of violence in their lives—as well as the committed and steadfast content of their characters. Starting at stanza 5, though, a speaker arrives to narrate the events of the Birmingham bombing. He does so (and we're just assuming it's a he, as we have no other evidence to go by) in the third person, far removed from the violence. We never learn who this narrator is, just as we never learn any specifics about the mother or child, nor do we learn what the speaker thinks about these events. Unfortunately, we don't need much more than basic reporting from our speaker. This tragedy speaks for itself.

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