The Blood Stoained Banders Poem Analysis

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“The Blood Stained Banders” is an African American spiritual sung by Blind Jimmie Strothers. Strothers was a banjo and guitar player who was blinded by an explosion at the mines that he worked at. After being convicted of murdering his wife with an axe, he was sent to the state penitentiary. There, he was found by Alan Lomax and Harold Spivacke who were working on finding field recordings for the Library of Congress. They recorded multiple songs sung by Strothers, among which is “The Blood Stained Banders”, an original composition. At first glance, “The Blood Stained Banders” is very much like a homily, telling its listeners how to get to the “other shore”, or heaven. However, there is room for a secondary meaning alongside the first. “If you want to go to heaven, over on the other shore. Keep out of the way of the gunshot devils” could reference slaves fleeing from the South to the North and to freedom, and that they had to avoid slave catchers, or “gunshot devils”.…show more content…
It is also hopeful, telling its listeners that they can get to heaven if they just avoid certain pitfalls. The music has 3 verses and a refrain that is repeated throughout, but it is only sung by one person. The singer’s voice is very deep, with a lot of vibrato, resonating a lot. The music has a very bouncy beat, and a very folksy feel. This really emphasizes the spiritual and hopeful feel of the music, telling the listeners that heaven is there on the other side, ready for any who are willing to take the steps to get to it. The melody includes “blues notes” which help to emphasize the sadness of the fact that the listeners are not on the shore of heaven, but have to journey there. And also the peril of the dangers that lie in wait for those who try to cross
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