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Dudley Randall’s Poems: Ballad of Birmingham and Cities Burning Poems
Themes and Their Importance. The theme of the poem is freedom and civil rights of an individual. The poems express the needs of people to return their freedom. People need to have the protection from civil unrest, and their individual rights must be respected.
The poem Cities Burning focuses on enlightening the individuals concerning their rights. The Ballad of Birmingham also enlightens people on the dangers of remaining ignorant of their individual rights. This comes at the time when people are facing the unrest in the country. The two poems have the themes of violence and dangers that people are facing with. The presence of riots and murders shows that there is a problem.
Both poems portray the imminent dangers that people are facing with. Randall is trying to enlighten people and make them more aware of the looming danger. Unfortunately, people possess different opinions altogether. They feel that any eventuality that will happen to them is inevitable, since it is their fate. The other poem also advocates for people to fight for their rights.
The poet used the mother and the little girl while describing the scenario. The girl refuses to use the advice of her mother. The mother argues about the dangers that lie outside and wishes to keep her daughter safe. When she refuses to remain indoors, her mother is distraught. When the little girl goes out she faces death; this confirms her of her mother’s fears. Burning Cities poem tries to advise people to be more vigilant and responsible for their rights. They should not ignore the dangerous signs and plunge themselves into compromising situations.
Finally, both poems express the need for solidarity among people in order for them to protect their common rights. They carry a message of freedom to people.
Bibliography. Dudley Felker Randall was born on the 14th of January 1914 in the state of Washington. His parents were Mr. Arthur George Clyde and Mrs. Ada Viola. His father, Mr. Arthur, was a church Minister, while his mother, Mrs. Ada, was a teacher. In 1920, his family moved to Detroit from Washington. In 1935, he married Ruby Hudson but later they got divorced. In 1942, Randall remarried again toMildred Pinckney, but the marriage was not a success. In 1957, he married again Vivian Spencer.
Randall’s interest in poetry began in his schooling years. He wrote his first poem at the age of thirteen years. This poem was printed in the publication of Detroit Free Press. Randall did various works during his life time. At one time, he was working at Ford Motors in Dearborn. This had been between the years 1932 to 1937. In 1938 till 1943, he was a clerk at Detroit Post Office. While working in the Post Office, Randall was attending Wayne University. He undertook a Bachelor’s Degree in the English language field until 1949. By 1951, he had been with his Masters in the Library Science at Michigan University. Randall was a librarian at the University of Lincoln and later at the college of Morgan State, Maryland. In 1956, Randall finally came back to Detroit where he started working as a Head of Department in Wayne County Library. Later he was among the military personnel in the Second World War.
D.C. Randall was a poet, and his works were of the African American nature. He did the poetry works as well as published poems in Detroit and Michigan. He was the founder of the Broadside Press Publishing Company in 1965. His company was a leading publisher of the African American poets. His poem The Ballad of Birmingham was extremely successful and made him famous. The bombing of the church in Birmingham in 1963 was the main reason behind his inspiration to write the poem. Four girls died as a result of bombing.
His poems are both realistic and simplistic. Randall wrote many poems in his life time. His first collection that the Press did was The Poem Counter in 1966. In 1968, Randall published in total thirteen poems: related to Cities Burning poems. In 1970, he did another publication of fourteen poems that were included to Love You. More to Remember in 1971 and After Killings in 1973 were other poems written by him. This was his reaction to the riots happening in Detroit. The most popular poem is The Ballad of Birmingham. The others include: The Profile on the Pillow and The Poets Are Not a Jukebox.
The murders of innocent people are described in his works. In the 1970s, there was a lot of social unrest. When writing his poem The Ballad of Birmingham, there was much oppression on people. The people were aware of the imminent danger, but some chose to remain adamant of the oblivious danger. Some people were arguing that such occurrences happened anyway no matter on the precautions that they had taken to shield themselves. In his poem, he compares people with a little girl who goes out despite her mother’s warnings of danger. The mother plays the protective role and does not want her daughter to fall a victim of the riots outside. Her mother is distraught about the death of her daughter because she thinks it was preventable.
His life experiences like his many divorces that he had gone through could also have an effect on his writings. He expressed a lot of love and the desire to protect other people, just like a real mother would express. The social unrest in those days was a significant inspiration to his works.
In 1981, Randall was the winner of the Poet Laureate in Detroit. Dudley Randall died on 5 August 2000 in Southfield, Michigan due to the heart attack. His legacy still lives on.
Why Do We Still Read This Author Today; Why Did You Choose This Author? The author made the significant contributions in the field of poetry from the 1960s up to the 80s. He was highly influential in the poetic field of the African American community. Dudley poetry provides a link to the old and new generation poets. The earlier generation poems are of the traditional Western form. The new generation poems involve the new styles and themes; the poets derive their works from the aftermath resulting from the Civil Rights Movement.
Dudley is a pioneer behind the establishment of the Broadside Press. He is a primary platform for the upcoming black voices. This is an encouragement to the black people to venture into the poetry and to have a chance pronouncing their concerns. The author acts as a mentor and a pioneer of this poetry. He establishes the grounds for the African Americans to express themselves in the poetic world.
Dudley helps the African Americans to fight against the oppression and also to improve their image. They have started to experience their freedom and to discover their potential. Many of poets take their inspiration from this author. His works are a masterpiece that many poets refer to in their works. Hans Werner, a composer of the song’s cycle Voices uses Randall’s words from the poem Roses and Revolution written in 1973.
Dudley poems address the real life situations. The poems are truly captivating while expressing the sentiments in a good way. Dudley’s contribution gives much to the revitalization of the black’s poetry in America. He promotes the upcoming black poets and recognizes their talents in the poetic field. His Press Establishment provides the support for poets as they have been able to publish their works.
Connections between the Life of the Writer and the Work of the Writer. Randall took his inspiration to write from many sources. At a tender age of thirteen, he wrote his first poem. His work experience placed him to have an advantage because he can easily access the materials in libraries while working there. There are many materials at his disposal, and the environment in libraries was also conducive for him. His educational background in the English and Library Science helped him in his poetic career.
The background helped him to develop and analyze his ideas in a critical way. It is for this reason that his works became famous. In fact, some other poets have used some of Dudley’s writings in their poems. The occurrence of the civil unrest and riots also inspired him to write his poems. The murder of innocent girls and the burning of the church are some of the factors that he had criticized.
Randall was oblivious of people’s sufferings and tried to voice them with the help of his poems. The poems had a clear but rather a realistic message. Every experience of the poet’s life had a connection with his works. His poems revolved around his attempts to protect other people. The love that he had expressed in some of his poems illustrated this. When he was in the military, his role was to protect other people. This made Dudley aware of the imminent dangers. His career as a librarian exposed him to more materials and helped him to write more. His marital life had some contributions to his sentiments. The wives that had left him despite his trials to make them stay could also have made an illustration of his state described in his works.