Robert Fitzgerald, "Cobb Would Have Caught It"
In sunburnt parks where Sundays lie,
Or the wide wastes beyond the cities,
Teams in grey deploy through sunlight.
Talk it up, boys, a little practice.
Coming in stubby and fast, the baseman
Gathers a grounder in fat green grass,
Picks it stinging and clipped as wit
Into th eleather: a swinging step
Wings it deadeye down to first.
Smack. Oh, attaboy, attyoldboy.
Catcher reverses his cap, pulls down
Sweaty casque, and squats in the dust:
Pitcher rubs new ball on his pants,
Chewing, puts a jet behind him;
Nods past batter, taking his time.
Batter settles, tugs at his cap:
A spinning ball: step and swing to it,
Caught like a cheek before it ducks
By shivery hickory: socko, baby:
Cleats dig into dust. Outfielder,
On his way, looking over shoulder,
Makes it a triple. A long peg home.
Innings and afternoons. Fly lost in sunset.
Throwing arm gone bad. There's your old ball game.
Cool reek of the field. Reek of companions.
Babette Deutsch, in Poetry in Our Time (1956), interprets this poem as unlike anything Pound would write but nonetheless influenced by Pound at the level of the language: "The lessons are patent in certain contemporary American pieces, like the one entitled 'Cobb Would Have Caught It,' a poem that Pound would never have written. It bears the unmistakable stamp of his teaching in the concision of the opening and closing lines, the propriety of the adjectives through out, the colloquialisms, of which the expatriate would have been incapable but the value of which he perfectly understood" (p. 149). And: Pound "is largely responsible for the charged language that is the feature of poetry in our time" (p. 151).
Reprinted in Robert Fitzgerald from Spring Shade: Poems 1931-1970 (New York : New Directions Pub. Corp., 1971).
Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/prokosch-baseball.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:28:12 EDT