"The PItcher" by Robert Francis, and "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

"The Pitcher" (Professional baseball)

This poem reveals the difference between a thrower and a pitcher.  A pitcher is an artist who does not just throw fastballs but stymies hitters by always keeping them guessing and using a variety of pitches.  Line 1:  "His art is eccentricity."  In what ways is a pitcher an artist?  What is his (or her) strategy?  It's interesting to remember that the pitcher is playing defense.  In the National League, pitchers do bat, but not in the American League.

Note the language here.  For example, in line 7, look up "errant" and "arrant."  Why use both words?  Notice that each pair of lines (the poem's structure) seems to mirror successive pitches:  the lines express similar ideas but with subtle differences.  Also, do the last two lines (enjambment here, plus they rhyme) mirror the pitcher's motion and release of the ball?

Finally, does a poet do what a pitcher does?  Explain the similarities between pitching and writing poetry.  And does this make the reader the batter?  What does this suggest?

Perhaps this last point reminds you of the Shakespeare sonnet--last couplet?


This poem is a celebration of the city of Chicago, but how it celebrates the city is what is interesting.  How does this poem integrate both negative and positive qualities?  Or in an odd way, do these negative qualities help explain the city's energy and vitality, its strength?  Is the overall picture here attractive or ugly?

Pick examples of descriptive details that capture sight and sound.  What about the use of "lists" (lines 1-5 & 13-17) versus the rest of the poem?

Be sure to answer Question 2.

Does this depiction of an industrial city recall the question Matthew Arnold asks about modern industrial life? "Dover Beach" is one answer to his question.  (See your notes.)