Thursday, July 23, 2009


by John Updike

It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even,
until you stand up to the plate 
and see the fastball sailing inside,
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not -- those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive,
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop's wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball's 
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines, 
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve 
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It's easy to do.  Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance
of failure is everybody's right,
beginning with baseball.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sonnets from the Porguguese, XIV

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only.  Do not say
'I love her for her smile... her look... her way
Of speaking gently... for a trick of thought
That fall in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day' --
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,
                                          -- and love so wrought,
May be unwrought so.  Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby.
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on through love's eternity.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sonnets from the Portuguese, X

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation.  Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax!  An equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed.
And love is fire:  and when I say at need
I love thee... mark!... I love thee!... in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine.  There's nothing low
In love, when love the lowest:  meanest creatures
Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
And what I feel, across the inferior features
Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
How that great work of Love enhances Nature's.