Ballad Of Ira Hayes By Johnny Cash BY: Ty Bohrer

First Stanza

Ira Hayes...Ira Hayes... Call him drunken Ira Hayes , He won't answer anymore, Not the Whiskey drinking Indian or the Marine that went to war. Gather round me people , There's a story I would tell ,Bout a brave young Indian you should remember well. From the land of the Pima Indian, A proud and noble band , Who farmed the Pheonix Valley , In Arizona land.

Red area is the Pima/ Maricopa Indian Reservation

Translation of First Stanza

This verse is about the artist about to tell you the story of the Life of Ira Hayes. As stated by the following words in this verse " Gather round me people , There's a story I would tell " .

This is Ira Hayes

Second Stanza

Down the ditches a thousand years , The water's Ira's people's crops , 'Til the white man stole their water rights , And the sparkling water stopped, Now Ira's folks were hungry , and their land grew crops of weeds , When war cam Ira Volunteered , And forgot the white man's greed.

Translation of Second Stanza

This stanza is saying how Ira's people had water for their crops but the white people took there water rights away. So they did not have water for their crops. and there lands did not grow crops that well. Then the war came, Ira volunteered to forget and ignore all his troubles.

Stanza Three

Call him drunken Ira Hayes , He won't answer anymore, Not the whiskey drinking Indian ,Or the marine that went to war. There they battled up Hirajima hill Two hundred and fifty men, But only twenty seven lived to walk back down again. And when the fight was over And Old Glory was raised , Among the men who held it high was the Indian Ira Hayes.

This stanza gives you a picture kinda like this. These are soldiers fighting to take the hill on Iwo Jima.

Translation of Third Stanza

This stanza is saying what Ira did when he was in the military he and 249 other men went up to the top of Hirajima hill but only 27 lived to walk back down. And when they raised the flag on that hill Ira Hayes was one of the men who raised the flag up.

Fourth Stanza

Call him drunken Ira Hayes , He won't answer anymore , Not the whiskey drinking Indian , Or the Marine that went to war, Ira Hayes returned a hero , Celebrated through the land , He was wined and speeched and honored , Everybody shook his hand , But he was just a Pima Indian , No water , no home , no chance , At home nobody cared what Ira'd done, And when did the Indians dance.

Pima/Maricopa Indian tribe reservation symbol.

Translation of the Fourth Stanza

This stanza is saying that when Ira came back he was a hero. But in actuality he had nothing. He was just a regular person At home nobody cared what he did.

Fifth Stanza

Call him drunken Ira Hayes , He won't answer anymore , Not the whiskey drinking Indian , Or the marine that went to war. Then Ira started drinking hard , Jail was often his home, They let him raise the flag Old Glory , Like you throw a dog a bone . He died drunk early one morning , Alone in the land he fought to save , Two inches of water and a lonely ditch , Was a grave for Ira Hayes.

Imagery of the ditch you imagine Ira died in.
Ira Hayes Actual Grave Marker in Arlington , VA National Cemetery Where he lays at rest.

Translation of Fifth Stanza

Ira fought with his inner demons and was trying to keep them at bay.  So he started to drink hard as a way to cope with these things. But in the end Ira dies sad and all alone.

Sixth Stanza

Call him drunken Ira Hayes , He won't answer anymore , Not the whiskey drinking Indian , Or the marine that went to war. Yeah , call him drunken Ira Hayes , But this land is just as dry , And his ghost is lying thirsty In the ditch where Ira died.

Translation of Sixth Stanza

This stanza is saying that he won't answer anymore cause he is long gone. It's also saying that nothing has changed since he left this world. The land is still just a dry and barren as when he left and that his maybe ghost is still roaming around searching for a way to pass on. And thinking he is still alive searching for it's purpose but it does it in vain. So let me ask you Do you believe in Ghosts ???????

Author Biography

Johnny Cash was born February 26th, 1932 in Kingsland Arkansas. He was one of seven kids born to Rae and Carrie Rivers. Cash grew up around music from around his mothers hymn and folk ballads and the working music sang in the fields. At and early age cash developed a love for music that enveloped his life. He started writing songs at the age of 12. Some aspects of Cash's life had an influence on his music. Like religion and family tragedies. Cash died in Nashville Tennessee on September 12th 2003.

Why was he Inspirational ?

Johnny Cashes music was loved by lots of people for several reasons. One of which was the unique sound cash made when he played his guitar. It made it sound like a passing train. This was because he was not very good with the guitar. He is also inspirational to others because of his ability to mix genres. In 1993 He teamed up with a music producer to release a 13 track album that mixed traditional Ballads with modern compositions.

Johnny Cash when he was younger.
Johnny Cash in his older years singing.

Poetic Devices

Johnny Cash used several different types of poetic devices in his music. One of these is theme and The theme of the Ballad of Ira Hayes is that he is trying to call attention to PTSD and the struggles our veterans go through when they come back from war. He is also trying to make you feel sympathetic toward Ira Hayes. Johnny Cash is trying to tell us to Honor the memory of this war hero. He was a Native American that faced poverty , unemployment and lack of supplies. Another poetic device Cash uses is Imagery. This is used when he says "Two hundred fifty men went up the hill and only twenty seven Lived to walk back down". You can imagine the soldiers running up the hill and fighting the enemy to get to the top.

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