April is National Poetry Month and today is opening day of our national pastime, the 2012 Major League Baseball season. What better time than to celebrate the poetry of baseball and sport than with the famous poem, “Casey at the Bat,” written by Ernest Thayer and first published in the San Francisco Examiner on June 3, 1888, and with the classic line, “And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball.”
Here are some other famous poems about baseball and other sports that suit the season:
Ernest Hemingway‘s Complete Poems features several early poems about football (“The Tackle,” “The Punt,” and “The Safety Man”) as well as a 1912 baseball poem, “The Opening Game,” in which the speaker incorrectly predicts that “Great things from the Cubs will soon be heard.” The Cubs concluded the 1912 season in 3rd place, 11.5 games behind the New York Giants.
William Carlos Williams’ “At the Ballgame” from Spring and All (1923) that discusses the state of fandom, how “The crowd at the ball game/ is moved uniformly/by a spirit of uselessness/which delights them.”
If baseball isn’t your sport of choice, A.E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” tackles topics much heavier than sports. Still, the athlete, even in death, manages to pull at our heartstrings. And for the classic athlete, the Olympian, the warrior, the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid feature extended sports sections on boxing, discus, javelin, running, and other physical feats that would inspire even old Casey.
Tell us your favorite poems about baseball or other sports, and Let’s play ball!