What is the genre of "Ballad of Birmingham"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A ballad is a type of narrative poetry that is song-like and tells a story.

“The Ballad of Birmingham” tells you what genre of poem it is in the title.  So what exactly is a ballad?  A ballad is a song.  In poetry, a ballad is a song-like narrative poem that usually describes an important person or event.  You can actually set a ballad to music and sing it, because it has a very lyrical quality.

This poem describes the bombing of a church in Birmingham , Alabama in 1963.  You can imagine the sadness of the mother who hears that her daughter has died.

The mother smiled to know her child

Was in the sacred place,

But that smile was the last smile

To come upon her face.

The use of rhyme (child/smile, place/face) contributes to the songlike quality of the poem, but the poem maintains its melancholy tone.

A ballad is a versatile form of poetry because you can read it, sing it, and tell a story with it.  This poem recalls a difficult time in our history and brings a human face to it, and also captures the strong emotion through sounds of poetry.

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