Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jonah, meet Casey

April is upon us, looming up like a wave about to break upon a steep New Jersey shoreline at high tide. Sure, it brings showers for May's flowers, but it also brings three exciting things. The first of which is my son Jonah's first birthday. I've spent the best year of my life getting to know this new and little person. I'm always searching for similar ways to connect with him that my dad connected with me. One of which I'll be able to use in the future is the recital of the poem Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I have fond memories of my dad reciting (performing would be a better word) the poem in its entirety at many a bedtime, and I feel confident I'll be able to pass along the love of this popular poem to my son in the same manner.

There's something about the stomach-tightening feeling of losing late in the game combined with the ecstatic hope that a ball can be somehow sent sailing over a wall that draws baseball fans together throughout the ages. Casey at the Bat has as much meaning today as it did when it was written in 1885; I submit to you the first two stanzas:

"The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat."

If you don't know what happens next, or even if you do, I encourage you to read the rest of it. There are some days in life that you feel like you live in Mudville, others, not so much. Of course, Chicago baseball clubs being what they are, local fans are more likely to have Mudville days than not.

Oh, the other two things great about April? Why, the beginning of the baseball season and the fact it is National Poetry Month. Poetry is, as they say, "awesome"! Does anyone else have a poem that has touched their life? How about thoughts on the upcoming baseball season?


Karen McBride said...

Cool - "Casey at the Bat" is going to get another promotional push beginning in just a few days, when DPPL celebrates National Poetry Month via a series of YouTube videos. In the videos, many of us on the library staff will take a turn reading a favorite poem and the first to take the plunge was Adult Services Librarian Bob Blanchard, reading "Casey..."
For a sneak preview, you can watch/hear Bob here:

Cathy F. said...

When my daughter was ten, she and I saw the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, Pirates of Penzance. We were captivated by the lyrics ofCat-Like Tread and vowed to recount them yearly. Your post reminds me of the joy of poetry and tradition, and I'm calling my twenty-something daughter to remind her of that time many years ago.

With Cat-Like Tread
Upon our prey we steal
In silence dread
Our cautious way we feel
No sound at all
We never speak a word
A fly's foot-fall
Would be distinctly heard

Tarantara, Tarantara.

So stealthily the pirate creeps
While all the household soundly sleeps

Come friends, who plough the sea
Truce to navigation
Take another station
Let's vary piracy
With a little burglary

Maggie K said...

My birthday is a mystery. I celebrate it in June. But April is the truest beginning of spring. The little goldfinches outside my window are turning bright yellow. By the way, I loved Bob’s reading Casey at the Bat at PlainTalkTV on YouTube. Happy Birthday, Jonah!

~ Maggie K

Lynne said...

My husband and I both enjoy "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot. We often talk about 'measuring out our life with coffee spoons.'

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