Comparison of Ballad of the Bread Man and Innocent's Song by
Charles Causley and Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot
The subject matter of "Ballad of the Bread Man" is the religious story
of the birth, life and death of Jesus. It has all the main events of
the traditional story but it is done in a modern style. The meaning of
the story remains but most of the particulars have changed. For
instance in the poem a "bishop", "five start general", and a "head of
an African country" represent the kings.
Charles Causley has bought the story up to date so it appeals to
people living today, especially younger people. Children might not
understand the Bible version of the story so Charles Causley has made
it more accessible and understandable for them.
The poem is divided into twenty stanzas with four lines in each. There
is a strict rhyming scheme that applies to the entire poem with no
exceptions. In every stanza the last word on the second and fourth
lines rhyme, for instance "bread" and "said" in the first stanza.
There is a simple rhythm present, and it is very repetitive and
familiar. The reason why the poem is so regimented with its structure,
rhyme and rhythm is because it is a "Ballad" as it says in the title.
The title "Ballad of the Bread Man" is very important. Ballads are
very ancient poems that tell a story. Most ballads have a simple and
recognisable form, structure and features. This is because originally
ballads were passed on by word of mouth. They needed to be simple so
they would be remembered.
The "Bread Man" part of the title is a metaphor for the goodness of
Jesus. Bread is mentioned in the Bible many times. It reminds you of
"The Last Supper", "Loaves and Fishes", the bread used in the Holy
Communion service, and in the saying "Give us today, our daily bread".
It reminds me personally of the story where Jesus shares out a small
amount of bread between 5000 people. The bread is a symbol of Jesus'
kindness and generosity that was so cruelly ignored.
Charles Causley changes a lot of the facts of the story, without
changing the moral and message. He uses words such as "newspaper",
"TV", "election" that were obviously not present at the time of the
original story. When reading the Bible version it is sometimes hard to
think it was not set in a different world to the one today. So he uses
these modern words so people living today will be able to identify
with the story.
When he says "bullet-proof limousine" I don't think he is just using
it for modernisation though. I think Charles Causley is implying that
the kings were protected and safe in their journey, almost in an evil
way. It signifies they have nothing in common with the people they are
reigning over. It is also in contrast to how vulnerable Jesus is.
The tone of the poem is amusing at the beginning. Causley uses humour
in his poetry, which I believe again is to appeal to children. He
creates images of God "sitting in his...