Today’s Illustration: “Hope — That Springs Eternal Within The Human Breast”

Who:  Ernest Lawrence Thayer

  • Ernest Lawrence Thayer was born on August 14, 1863
  • born in Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • graduated with a BA in philosophy from Harvard University in 1885
  • a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and edited the Harvard Lampoon. 
  • At Harvard, Thayer met William Randolph Hearst, who would later run the San Francisco Examiner and hire Thayer to write a humorous column for the newspaper.
  • On June 3, 1883, Thayer published, what would become his most famous work, the poem “Casey at the Bat,” under the pen name Phin.
  • The poem gained popularity after the performer William DeWolf Hopper incorporated a recitation of it into his theatrical and radio performances.
  • Thayer moved to Santa Barbara, California, in 1912.
  • He died in Santa Barbara on August 21, 1940.
    link to this information

What: Thayer’s most famous work, the poem “Casey at the Bat.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest,
With that hope which springs eternal within the human breast.
For they thought: “
If only Casey could get a whack at that
They’d put even money now, with Casey at the bat.

. . . . .

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • hope
  • confidence
  • trust
  • salvation
  • faithfulness
  • talents / abilities
  • the arm of flesh / God
  • power / strength
  • weakness
  • great men & women of the Bible
  • failure
  • success

. . . .

Sermonic Example: There are several distinct ways that one can use illustrative material.

(use whatever you find useful in the above details or lines from the poem)

One of the most famous poems — a story poem — was written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer — an American poet.  The poem is titled “Casey at the Bat.”

The poem is about a home baseball game in Mudville.

The score was 2 to 4 against Mudville.

Last inning!

Batter Cooney was out at second.

Likewise, batter Burrows was also tagged out at second!

Now — with two outs — the poem sets up the classic tension.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest,
With that hope which springs eternal within the human breast.
For they thought: “If only Casey could get a whack at that,”
They’d put even money now, with Casey at the bat.

However, two other players preceded Casey.

Casey was batter number three, and only if the next two batters got on base would he be able to step up and possibly deliver the winning hit.

Either one of the next two batters strikes out — and Mudville loses.

If Casey gets to bat and hits a home run, and they win the game.

Thayer has Flynn hit the ball for a triple.

Blake follows and he, to the surprise of all, makes it to second.

All were confident that Casey could do it!

He could hit the home run, which would win the game for Mudville’s home game!

For Casey, mighty Casey was advancing to the bat.”

You know how the poem ended . . .

But there is no joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey ….. has struck out.

That poem captures the “hope that springs eternal within the human breast” that all of us have experienced as we have watched our team fight to win with only moments left to accomplish that!

Sometimes, it happens  – – – – and many times “Mighty Casey has struck out!”

But “hope springs eternal within the human breast” as long as there is still an opportunity and time to win.

Ernest Thayer captured the reality in that famous poem — That is the hope that keeps dreams alive even when those dreams look like they are on the brink of ending!



Other Information & Links:

It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood two to four, with but an inning left to play.
So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest,
With that hope which springs eternal within the human breast.
For they thought: “If only Casey could get a whack at that,”
They’d put even money now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, and likewise so did Blake,
And the former was a pudd’n and the latter was a fake.
So on that stricken multitude a deathlike silence sat;
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a “single,” to the wonderment of all.
And the much-despised Blakey “tore the cover off the ball.”
And when the dust had lifted, and they saw what had occurred,
There was Blakey safe at second, and Flynn a-huggin’ third.

Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell–
It rumbled in the mountaintops, it rattled in the dell;
It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat;
For Casey, mighty Casey was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place,
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face;
And when responding to the cheers he lightly doffed his hat.
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.”

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt,
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then when the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance glanced in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped;
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on the stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult, he made the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike Two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed;
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let the ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lips, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel vengeance his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville: Mighty Casey has struck out.

. . . . 
* Make Mine Music (1946 film) Ten shorts are combined in a tuneful compilation. Disney’s first postwar “package” picture, produced because financial problems prevented Walt Disney from finding enough money to create a full animated feature. . . . Casey at the Bat, with Jerry Colonna reciting the sad story of Mighty Casey, a baseball player who loses his touch and can no longer hit the ball.

*”Casey at the Bat (film) Segment of Make Mine Music, “A Musical Recitation” by Jerry Colonna, about the mighty but vain ballplayer who strikes out to lose the game. Rereleased as a short on July 16, 1954.”

. . . . 

https://www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/po_case.shtml

A Reader’s Version link

https://poetrycollection5english.weebly.com/casey-at-the-bat.html

https://poets.org/poem/casey-bat

— original wording

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

Link to the original version

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