May 28, 2006

Analysis of Baseball

by May Swenson

SUNDAY, 28 MAY, 2006
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Poem: "Analysis of Baseball," by May Swenson, from The Complete Poems to Solve. © Macmillan Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Analysis of Baseball

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn't
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat's
bait. Ball
flirts, bat's
late, don't
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.

Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That's about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It's done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It's about
home, and it's
about run.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of Romantic poet Thomas Moore, (books by this author) born in Dublin, Ireland (1779). He's best known for his ten-volume collection Irish Melodies (1808), which contains poems such as "The Last Rose of Summer" and "Oft in the Stilly Night."

It's the birthday of Australian novelist Patrick White, (books by this author), born in London, England, while his parents were there on a visit in 1912. He grew up in Australia at a time when Australians still considered the United Kingdom their home. He traveled widely and wrote novels set in London and the United States, but he's best known for his novels about pioneers in Australia, such as The Tree of Man (1955) and Voss (1957). He said that the subject of these novels was "the great Australian emptiness, in which the mind of man is the least of possessions." In 1973 he became the first Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

It's the birthday of novelist and poet Fred Chappell, (books by this author), born in Canton, North Carolina (1936). His novels include Look Back All the Green Valley (1999), It Is Time, Lord (1963), and Dagon (1968); and his collections of poems include Family Gathering: Poems (2000).

It's the birthday of novelist Walker Percy, (books by this author), born in Birmingham, Alabama (1916). He was working as a psychiatrist when he caught tuberculosis, and he spent two years recovering from the disease. In bed, he started reading existentialist philosophers and decided to become a writer. He's best known for his first novel, The Moviegoer (1961).

Percy wrote, "[We] live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing."

It's the birthday of poet May Swenson, (books by this author), born in Logan, Utah (1919). She moved to New York City in her twenties and supported herself as a secretary, writing poems when she was supposed to be writing speeches for executives. She published her first collection, Another Animal, in 1954, and she became known for her playful poems about everything from DNA to baseball to astronauts.

It's the birthday of the man who created James Bond, novelist Ian Fleming, (books by this author), born in London, England (1908). He wanted to be a diplomat, but he failed the Foreign Office examination and decided to go into journalism. He worked for the Reuters News Service in London, Moscow, and Berlin, and then during World War II, he served as the assistant to the British director of naval intelligence.

After the war, he bought a house in Jamaica, where he spent his time fishing and gambling and bird watching. He started to get bored, so he decided to try writing a novel about a secret agent. He named the agent James Bond after the author of a bird-watching book.

Fleming said, "James Bond is ... the feverish dreams of the author of what he might have been—bang, bang, bang, kiss, kiss, that sort of stuff. It's what you would expect of an adolescent mind—which I happen to possess."

The first Bond novel, Casino Royale, sold about 7,000 copies, and Fleming followed it with four more that sold less and less well. Critics said he was good at writing about places, but that was about it. Fleming had a newborn son at home, and he was disappointed that these books weren't making more money to help support the family, so for his next Bond story he wrote the book specifically for the movies. He filled it with more psychopaths and beautiful women than usual. No one in the movie industry was interested at the time, but the novel From Russia, with Love (1957) became a huge international best-seller.

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