Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marianne Moore (born November 15, 1887)

"Baseball and Writing"

(Marianne Moore

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.

In part because of her extensive European travels before the First World War, Moore came to the attention of poets as diverse as Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, H.D., T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound. From 1925 until 1929, Moore served as editor of the literary and cultural journal The Dial. This continued her role, similar to that of Pound, as a patron of poetry, encouraging promising young poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery and James Merrill. Not long after throwing the first pitch for the 1968 season in Yankee Stadium, Moore suffered a stroke. She suffered a series of strokes thereafter, and died in 1972.

(Photo of Marianne Moore and her mother, by Cecil Beaton, from wood s lot site)

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