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Narrative Poems Essay

The poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer is about a basketball game and more specifically a player by the name of Casey and how he performs in batting position. The title in the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, leads the reader to believe that the story is about thieves who rob upper-class citizens. As it turns out, it is a love story where both the hero and heroine die at the end. The settings of both poems take place more than 100 years ago. In the poem “Casey at the Bat,” the author, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, uses end rhyme, where the rhyming words occur at the end of each sentence. For example, line forty-nine ends with the word “bright,” and line fifty ends with the word “light.” The rhyme scheme of this poem is abab. Another poetic device that the author uses is repetition. An example of this is are the lines from the poem “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.” In these lines, the repeated words are “and now,” probably to introduce suspense by staying in the current moment. The final example of a poetic device that the author uses is a simile. An example of a simile in the poem is ”. . there went up a muffled roar, like the beating of the storm . . .” The author includes this to add description to the poem and to make it more memorable.

In the poem “Casey at the Bat,” the author, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, has four main characters. They are Casey, Flynn, Blake and the umpire. In the beginning of the story, Casey is used to the adoration of the crowds as he acknowledges them by “doffed his hat”. He knows that he can save the game and “a sneer curled Casey’s lip” as if to defy the pitcher. Casey is very full of himself, to the point where he purposely let the first two balls go past him. He keeps the spectators in suspense and is condescending to the umpire when he raises his hand to keep the crowd from killing him. It appears that the whole performance was a game to Casey as he toyed with the spectators, umpire and pitcher until the last possible moment. Near the end of the story, when he strikes out he is probably much less confident and very sad and angry. I think that Casey is so full of himself because he believes himself to be the best baseball player in Mudville. Flynn is most likely not very confident in the beginning of the story because the author describes him as “pudd’n” which implies that he is very overweight and soft. It doesn’t help that the spectators have no respect for him. However, not only does he hit a single but he manages to get to third on Blake’s hit. He is surprised at himself as the author describes him “a-huggin’ third” because he hits the baseball and then Casey strikes out. It is important that Flynn and Blake hit that baseball fairly well to emphasize what a terrible hit Casey has. Since people call Blake “a fake”, he is probably feeling down in the beginning but feeling much happier after he “tore the cover off the ball” and Casey missed it altogether. As if to prove a point Blakey gets all the way to second as if to show the spectators that he isn’t a fake after all. The referee is probably surprised that Casey misses the ball all three times. The referee is important because he calls Casey’s strike one and two and as a result the audience yells at him. Another element of a short story that the author utilizes is setting. The poem takes place at the baseball field. The setting of a baseball field is very realistic because the author makes several references to modern baseball field such as “dust had lifted”, second base, third base, batting plate, a pitcher, an umpire and spectators. The author includes examples such as ”he rubbed his hands with dirt”, and the “pitcher ground the ball into his hip” that made the setting even more realistic. The setting of the poem helps the reader determine what happens to the characters because since the poem is about a famous baseball player, the reader can assume that either he makes an excellent hit or he completely strikes out. The final element of a short story that the author uses is theme. The moral or theme of this story is do not be full of yourself. The theme is not directly stated and it must be inferred by the reader. The theme does not provoke very much thinking because it is fairly obvious not to be full of yourself.

In the poem “The Highwayman,” the author, Alfred Noyes, uses four main characters. They are the highwayman, Bess, Tim, and King George’s men. The highwayman develops/changes from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. In the beginning of the story, he is confident as he “clashed in the dark inn-yard” and dressed as if he were a fashion model with a “cocked – hat”, a” bunch of lace” and “never a wrinkle”. Bess loves him but Tim is jealous of him. The highwayman comes to boast to his beloved that that he would be able to steal the gold. When he finds out that it was Bess who sacrificed herself to save him he loses control and doesn’t care if the redcoats get him or not. His love for Bess overcomes his will to live. Unfortunately near the end of the story he is shot down like a dog “with a bunch of lace at his throat.”Another character that is in the story is Bess. She is expecting the highwayman’s visit as she has a “ dark red love-knot” in her hair and “red-lipped”. When the redcoats tie her up and she realizes that she could warn the highwayman by shooting herself there is no hesitation. She is very scared as “the blood of her veins…throbbed” and very determined to twist her hands until the musket was in the right position. Tim, the ostler is described as an unsavory character as “his face was white and peaked. His eyes are hollows of madness”. It is obvious that he loves Bess and hates the highwayman. He calls King George’s men to the inn after he hears what the highwayman is planning to do. He must have been very sad in the end when Bess dies. King George’s men were powerful as they didn’t even greet the landlord but just “drank his ale”. They were determined to catch the highwayman with little regard to Bess or anyone else. They were insolent enough to kiss her. They play a very large part in the story by indirectly killing Bess and directly killing the highwayman. The setting of this story is at the inn and partially on the highway. The setting of this poem is very realistic because it takes place in eighteenth and nineteenth century England and the author refers to “cobblestones” and “muskets,” and uses horses as the only mode of transportation. The entire setting is dark with the moon providing very little light cluing the reader in that the end of the story is an unhappy one. The moral or theme of this poem is love goes on forever, or appreciate what you have. The theme does provoke thinking because it raises the question that asks if human souls go to another place after they die or if they simply die and are gone forever.

In the poem “The Highwayman,” the author, Alfred Noyes, utilizes many poetic devices three of which are: simile, metaphor, and repetition. One example of his many similes is “…his hair like moldy hay….” An example of a metaphor in the poem is “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees….” The fact that the author has so many metaphors and similes in the poem adds detail to the poem and makes it easier to understand. The largest section of repetition in the poem is when the first and third stanzas are repeated at the end of the poem, but in Italics. This makes the reader reread those stanzas to draw emphasis to them.

In conclusion, both Thayer and Noyes use poetic devices such as rhyme, similes, and metaphors to create more vivid and memorable descriptions for the reader. In “The Highwayman,” the author’s use of the metaphor “The moon was a ghostly galleon” allows the reader to feel a powerful air of mystery and drama. The setting reinforces the eerie feeling as the poem takes place in the dark and involves both muskets and blood. In the poem “Casey at the Bat,” Thayer’s use of rhyme makes the poem easy to read and his word choice such as “it rumbled in the mountaintops” is such an exaggeration that it helps to build the suspense. Thayer sets the reader up for a happy ending and really draws the climax out, seven stanzas, keeping the reader is suspense. The reader is blindsided when Casey with all of his ego strikes out. These poems are great examples of the use of poetic devices, which intensifies the emotional roller coaster experience of the reader.


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