Baseball and Writing

Marianne Moore

 

(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-
      diagnosis
      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.
 
From The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore. Copyright © 1961 Marianne Moore, © renewed 1989 by Lawrence E. Brinn and Louise Crane, executors of the Estate of Marianne Moore.

Poems by This Author

A Grave by Marianne Moore
Man looking into the sea,
Diligence Is to Magic as Progress Is to Flight by Marianne Moore
With an elephant to ride upon—
Ennui by Marianne Moore
He often expressed
Feed Me, Also, River God by Marianne Moore
Lest by diminished vitality and abated
He "Digesteth Harde Yron" by Marianne Moore
Although the aepyornis
Poetry by Marianne Moore
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
Silence by Marianne Moore
My father used to say
Sojourn in the Whale by Marianne Moore
Trying to open locked doors with a sword, threading
Spenser's Ireland by Marianne Moore
has not altered;--
The Fish by Marianne Moore
wade / through black jade
The Paper Nautilus by Marianne Moore
For authorities whose hopes
To a Steam Roller by Marianne Moore
The illustration
When I Buy Pictures by Marianne Moore
or what is closer to the truth
You Are Fire Eaters by Marianne Moore
Not a mere blowing flame


Further Reading

Poems About Sports
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
by Christopher Merrill
After Skate
by Carol Muske-Dukes
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
by James Wright
Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
Night Baseball
by Michael Blumenthal
Séance at Tennis
by Dana Goodyear
Tackle Football
by Dan Chiasson
The Bee
by James Dickey
The First Olympic Ode [excerpt]
by Pindar
The Trouble Ball [excerpt]
by Martín Espada
To An Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
Train-Mates
by Witter Bynner