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Poetry Analysis Notes


Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
interpreted by Aneesh Venkat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning left 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 but get a whack at that,
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn procede Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a no-good and the latter was a fake;
So, upon that stricken multitude grim meloncholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball,
And when the dust had lifted and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin' third.

Then from five thousand throats and more threr rose a lusty yell,
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell,
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face,
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the croud could doubt `twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tounges applauded as he wiped them on his shirt.
Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there,
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped --
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him; kill the umpire!" shouted someone from the stand;--
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud," cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered "Fraud,"
But one scornful look from Casey, and the multitude was awed.
The saw his face grow stern and cold; they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip; his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh! somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has Struck Out.

Poet: Thayer, Ernest. Born August 14, 1863 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Ernest Thayer was the son of a prosperous mill owner. His family eventually moved to Worcester, Massachusetts where his father ran several wool mills. He was an exceptional student who went on to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After working for the San Francisco Chronicle, Thayer went on to write many poems. He died in Santa Barbara in the year 1940. His only major work of poetry is Casey at Bat, in which Ernest Thayer tells stories of Mighty Casey. Thayer is remembered mainly for his articles in the various newspapers he wrote for. Many baseball enthusiasts also remember him for his excellent portrayal of a hometown baseball game.

Vocabulary: Stricken - afflicted by or as if by disease, misfortune, or sorrow
Multitude - a great number
Melancholy - sad, plaintive
Tumult - violent agitation of mind or feelings

Type of poem:
The poem is an example of a ballad.

Speaker: The speaker of this poem seems to be an omniscient narrator who is viewing the scene from Mudville from the stands.

This poem is directed towards a general audience.

Tone: The tone of this poem is both exciting and suspenseful at the same time. One can feel the excitement of the crowd as Casey steps up to bat. The suspense the ballad is also present as the outcome of the baseball game is left till the last line.

This poem relays the ending of a baseball game in the town of Mudville. Down 4 to 2, the team from Mudville has two more mediocre batters before their superstar Casey goes to bat. Luckily, the batters get to second and third base respectively, and Casey comes to bat. The poem shows the obsession of Mudville's fans about baseball and their willingness even to kill the umpire. At end, though, Casey ends up struck out, leaving Mudville in a state of misery.

Structure of poem: The structure of this poem is one of traditional verse.

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day: The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play. rhyming pattern
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shown;
biblical allusion
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
run-on line
him had not Casey raised his hand

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: The poet, Ernest Thayer was a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle during his years in California, and also wrote for the New York Times later on in his career. During his stint with the New York Times, Thayer became very interested in both baseball and poetry and this combination gave birth to "Casey at Bat." Of course during this time period, baseball was the main sport that people watched in the United States of America.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

I believe this to be the most memorable quote from the poem because it came as a total surprise to me. I thought that Casey would easily hit the home run, but it ended up that even the best of people can have bad days.

© Smelli Notes 2001