“Hope” and “Ballad of Birmingham” Comparison

March 29, 2018 General Studies

?Erik Estrada Professor Morean English 113 SU10 B Term 11 August 2010 Children Remembered The poems “Hope” by Ariel Dorfman and “Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall display a theme relating to the tremendous love a parent displays for their children and the terrible feeling they experience when they sense their child is in grave danger. In “Hope” the narrator describes the son “missing / since May 8 / of last year” (766). In “Ballad of Birmingham” it describes the story of a mother giving her daughter permission to go to a place where she thinks is safe and in the end, dies in a church bombing that is racially motivated.

There are many similarities in both these poems but the one that is clearly present is the grief of a parent when they sense their child is in danger. The authors of both poems are describing real life situations that have taken place in different societies. The grief that the author portrays by the parents is very much real and parents in similar situations can relate. “Hope” begins by stating how long the boy has been missing. The author writes “After the car left / the car with no license plate / we couldn’t / find out / anything else” (766).

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In that line the parent describes vivid details about the day their son went missing. This indicates to the reader that the parent(s) has not forgotten that day, which would account for the tremendous love the parent felt as described above. “Ballad of Birmingham” begins with the child at home with her mother. The tremendous love mentioned herein is displayed by the mother and her unwillingness to allow her child to downtown due to the violence.

The author writes “No, baby, no, you may not go / for the dogs are fierce and wild / and clubs and hoses, guns and jails / aren’t good for a little child” (769). The mother is being proactive, thus not in a state of panic or worry at this point. Since “Hope” begins with the son already missing the reader does not observe the state of comfort as he/she would visualize like that in “Ballad of Birmingham”. For example “Ballad of Birmingham” states “the mother smiled to know her child / was in the sacred place, / but that smile was the last smile / To come upon her face” (769).

The reader can visualize the expression on the mother’s face prior to hearing the explosion to follow. The parents in “Hope” become very anxious after “we heard from a companero / that just got out / that five months later / they were torturing him” (766). This anxious moment is described as “for when she heard the explosion / her eyes grew wet and wild. / She raced through the streets of Birmingham / Calling for her child” (769) in “Ballad of Birmingham”. Irony is clearly displayed in both poems.

The irony in “Hope” is “that a father’s / joy / a mother’s / joy / is knowing / that they / that they are still / torturing their son” (769). This indicates the son “may might could / still be alive” (769) and gives the parents a new sense of hope. The irony in “Ballad of Birmingham” is that he mother gives permission to the child to “go to church instead / And sing in the children’s choir” (769). The mother sees the church as a safe place and believes her daughter will be safe there as opposed to downtown where she would like to participate in the march.

Both poems have a number of similarities. Each describes the anxiety the parents of the children experience at different moments. Imagery is displayed, which is used to create a mental image describing the tremendous love a parent displays for their children and the terrible feeling they experience when they sense their child is in grave danger. The authors of both poems describe irony that exist in complex situations but no matter what situation one thing is clear: the love for a child by a parent will never die.


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