Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm Missing Baseball Already

Some subjects just lend themselves to poetry perfectly.  There are many great poems about sex.  There are many great poems about World War I.  There are many great poems about baseball.



The World Series ended just a few days ago, but I'm already missing baseball.  This morning, on the way to work, my iPod dialed up a recording of Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading "Baseball Canto," one of the great poems about the nation's pastime.  It made me think about my other favorite baseball poems, three of which are included below.  What are yours?

The Pitcher
by Robert Francis

His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technique how to vary the avoidance.

The others throw to be comprehended. He
Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
But every seeming aberration willed.

Not to, yet still, still to communicate
Making the batter understand too late.



Baseball and Classicism

By Tom Clark


Every day I peruse the box score for hours
Sometimes I wonder why I do it.
Since I am not going to take a test on it   
And no one is going to give me money

The pleasure’s something like that of codes   
Of deciphering an ancient alphabet say   
So as brightly to picturize Eurydice
In the Elysian Fields on her perfect day

The day she went 5 for 5 against Vic Raschi




Baseball


by John Updike
It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even,
until you stand up to the plate
and see the fastball sailing inside,
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not—those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive,
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop's wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball's
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines,
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It's easy to do. Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance
of failure is everybody's right,
beginning with baseball. 






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