Critical Evaluation The Ballad of Billy Ros - Sample Essay
Is there a poem you have read recently that has made an impression on you? Say briefly what the poem is about, then, in more detail, describe the impact the poem has made on you. You should comment on the poet’s use of language and imagery. A poem which has made an impression on me is “The Ballad of Billy Rose” by Leslie Norris. The poem describes memories of the poet being at a football match and then being at a boxing match 20 years before that. Through an analysis of language and imagery I will explain why the poem has made such an impact on me.
The poem begins with the poet recalling a memory of being at a football match. This quickly chances when he remembers seeing Billy Rose for the first time in 20 years. After seeing Bill Rose he remembers a night when he was younger when he went to a boxing match. This was the night he saw Billy Rose blinded by George Morgan of Tirphil. At the beginning of the poem he remembers standing outside Bristol Rovers Football Ground waiting to watch Portsmouth in the cup. He “was filled with the old excitement “which had thrilled him when he was younger going to football matches. While standing outside the football stadium he describes the coaches coming in for the match as a “colourful patch of country coaches”.
This is an alliteration which describes the coaches as bright and colourful. Then the poet and all of the other football supporters strode forward eagerly, well all except one man. The poet noticed this man because he was standing “paradoxically still, a stone against the flood, face upright, head bare and hoarse voice aloft”. This meant that he was just standing there with his head looking upwards, while thousands of people moved around him. There was something about this man that made the poet feel as if he knew him, “despite his pathetic clothes,” which gives us the impression that he might not have a lot of money to spend on clothes. When the poet realises that it is Billy Rose he starts to remember tragic events of a night when he was younger when he saw Billy Rose blinded in a boxing match.
After seeing Billy Rose he recalls a memory of being at a boxing match when he was younger. The poet was there with his friends, standing close to the “shabby ring” and acting “artificially bored”. Shabby ring is an effective quote because it gives you the impression that the boxing rings are not as high quality as the boxing rings that are used today and artificially bored suggests that the poet and his friends were excited, but they did not want to show it. This were Billy Rose fought. He was “top of the bill” which meant that he was the best. He was also a “brisk, gallant and precise fighter”, which meant that he was quick, brave and always on target.
Then the poet remembers one of his friends being sick, but the poet and the rest of his friends quickly “threatened his cowardice with an embarrassed kick” because they fought he was acting like a child and they were trying to look grown up. The rest of them were tough enough not to let seeing Billy Rose “ripped across both his eyes” affect them the way it effected there friend Donald Davies. “As they wrapped up his blindness in busy towels” he gave his “executioners” a wave. Busy towels are an example of personification because it is an inanimate object that has been given human qualities.
It means that there were a lot of towels getting wrapped round his head at the same time. Executioners refers to the crowd that had paid to see the fight , if they had not paid to see it the fight would not have happened and Billy Rose would still be able to see. After the poet recalled all these memories he began to feel as if he was responsible for Billy Rose’s blinding. He “had forgotten that day as if it were dead forever”. This gives us the impression that he did not think about it very much and when he saw Billy Rose he seemed to be able to remember a lot about the day considering it was a long time ago.
The poet then remembered just standing there with all these horrible feelings of guilt moving around him. He then ran “entering the waves of the stadium like a drowning man”. This is an example of a simile which means that he looked like he was drowning because when he entered the stadium you could not see him anymore. The poet now cries at the memory because he thinks that his “3 sharp coins knocked out his sight”. He thinks that if everyone else and him had not paid three pence to see the fight the fight would not have happened, that is why the poet thinks his coins knocked out Billy Rose’s sight.
I enjoyed reading this poem because the poet used a number of different themes which made the poem more enjoyable to read. These themes are violence and guilt. Guilt is mostly revealed through the poet’s feelings; this is because he feels sorry for everything that happened to Billy Rose and he feels as if the blinding of Billy Rose was his fault. Violence is another main theme because the main point of the poem is the blinding of Billy Rose. The last line of the poem shows one of the main feelings of guilt because he thinks he was the one that was responsible for the blinding of Billy Rose.
I thought the poet described events and people with a lot of detail; an example of this was when Billy Rose was described as a “brisk, gallant and precise” fighter which helped you imagine how good he was. This is just one example which shows how well the poet describes things in detail.