Tuesday, August 30, 2011

pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.

A poem about baseball, by Marianne Moore.

I feel like I should start doing something like "Poetry Tuesdays" (or Wednesdays, or Thursdays, or whatever). Any input?

Baseball and Writing
(Suggested by post-game broadcasts)
Fanaticism?  No.  Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
   You can never tell with either
      how it will go
      or what you will do;
   generating excitement--
   a fever in the victim--
   pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.
	Victim in what category?
Owlman watching from the press box?
	To whom does it apply?
	Who is excited?  Might it be I?

It's a pitcher's battle all the way--a duel--
a catcher's, as, with cruel
   puma paw, Elston Howard lumbers lightly
      back to plate.  (His spring 
      de-winged a bat swing.)
   They have that killer instinct;
   yet Elston--whose catching
   arm has hurt them all with the bat--
	when questioned, says, unenviously,
   "I'm very satisfied.  We won."
	Shorn of the batting crown, says, "We";
	robbed by a technicality.

When three players on a side play three positions
and modify conditions,
   the massive run need not be everything.
      "Going, going . . . "  Is
      it?  Roger Maris
   has it, running fast.  You will
   never see a finer catch.  Well . . .
   "Mickey, leaping like the devil"--why
	gild it, although deer sounds better--
snares what was speeding towards its treetop nest,
	one-handing the souvenir-to-be
	meant to be caught by you or me.

Assign Yogi Berra to Cape Canaveral;
he could handle any missile.
   He is no feather.  "Strike! . . . Strike two!"
      Fouled back.  A blur.
      It's gone.  You would infer
   that the bat had eyes.
   He put the wood to that one.
Praised, Skowron says, "Thanks, Mel.
   I think I helped a little bit."
	All business, each, and modesty.
        Blanchard, Richardson, Kubek, Boyer.
	In that galaxy of nine, say which
	won the pennant?  Each.  It was he.

Those two magnificent saves from the knee-throws
by Boyer, finesses in twos--
   like Whitey's three kinds of pitch and pre-
      with pick-off psychosis.
   Pitching is a large subject.
   Your arm, too true at first, can learn to
   catch your corners--even trouble
	Mickey Mantle.  ("Grazed a Yankee!
My baby pitcher, Montejo!"
	With some pedagogy,
	you'll be tough, premature prodigy.)

They crowd him and curve him and aim for the knees.  Trying
indeed!  The secret implying:
   "I can stand here, bat held steady."
      One may suit him;
       none has hit him.
   Imponderables smite him.
   Muscle kinks, infections, spike wounds
   require food, rest, respite from ruffians.  (Drat it!
	Celebrity costs privacy!)
Cow's milk, "tiger's milk," soy milk, carrot juice,
	brewer's yeast (high-potency--
	concentrates presage victory

sped by Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez--
deadly in a pinch.  And "Yes,
   it's work; I want you to bear down,
      but enjoy it
      while you're doing it."
   Mr. Houk and Mr. Sain,
   if you have a rummage sale,
   don't sell Roland Sheldon or Tom Tresh.
	Studded with stars in belt and crown,
the Stadium is an adastrium.
	O flashing Orion,
	your stars are muscled like the lion. 


  1. Belatedly (blame Irene), yes, of course!

    Maybe with a line or two on what you like about the selected poem? Or maybe just let it speak for itself.

    Am I allowed to quote back?

    I will, without waiting for permission, but tell me if this kind of thing is too long, for future reference.

    My current-favorite baseball poem (not that I have many favorite baseball poems):

    The City, by Robert Pinsky

    I live in the little village of the present
    But lately I forget my neighbors' names.
    More and more I spend my days in the City:

    The great metropolis where I can hope
    To glimpse great spirits as they cross the street,
    Souls durable as the cockroach and the lungfish.

    When I was young, I lived in a different village.
    We had parades, the circus, the nearby fort.
    And Rabbi Gewirtz invented a game called "Baseball."

    To reach first base you had to chant two lines
    Of Hebrew verse correctly. Mistakes were outs.
    One strike for every stammer or hesitation.

    We boys were thankful for the Rabbi's grace,
    His balancing the immensity of words
    Written in letters of flame by God himself

    With our mere baseball, the little things we knew...
    Or do I remember wrong, did we boys think
    (There were no girls) that baseball was the City

    And that the language we were learning by rote--
    A little attention to meaning, now and then--
    Was small and local. The major leagues, the City.

    One of the boys was killed a few years later,
    Wearing a uniform, thousands of miles away.
    He was a stupid boy: when I was captain,

    If somehow he managed to read his way to first,
    I never let him attempt the next two lines
    To stretch it for a double. So long ago.

    Sometimes I think I've never seen the City,
    That where I've been is just a shabby district
    Where I persuade myself I'm at the center.

    Or: atrocities, beheadings, mass executions,
    Troops ordered to rape and humiliate-- the news,
    The Psalms, the epics-- what if that's the City?

    Gewirtz, he told us, means a dealer in spices.
    Anise and marjoram used for embalming corpses,
    For preserving or enhancing food or drink:

    The stuff of civilization, like games and verses.
    The other night, I dreamed about that boy,
    The foolish one who died in the course of war:

    He pulled his chair up so he faced the wall.
    I wanted him to read from the prayer-book.
    He didn't answer-- he wouldn't play the game.

  2. Amaryllis, I love when you post poems. This was wonderful. :)

    I think sometimes I'd like to say something when I post a poem, and other times I like to let it stand alone.

    This one I liked because I play baseball. Or, well, I try, anyway--I have an injured shoulder, so I haven't been playing a whole lot this season.