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|Year Suffix=c
 
|Year Suffix=c
 
|Year Number=26
 
|Year Number=26
|Headline=Melville (Maybe) Describes New England Ball Game Poetically
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|Headline="Speeding Ball Is Flung" Poem Appears  -- Some Think Melville Wrote It
 
|Salience=3
 
|Salience=3
|Tags=Ball in the Culture,  
+
|Tags=Ball in the Culture, Pre-modern Rules,  
 
|Country=United States
 
|Country=United States
 
|Coordinates=42.4072107, -71.3824374
 
|Coordinates=42.4072107, -71.3824374
|State=MA
+
|State=MA?
 
|Game=Unnamed plugging game
 
|Game=Unnamed plugging game
 
|Immediacy of Report=Contemporary
 
|Immediacy of Report=Contemporary
 
|Age of Players=Juvenile
 
|Age of Players=Juvenile
 
|Text=<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
 
|Text=<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
<p><span>And now hurrah! for the speeding ball</span><br /><span>Is flung in viewless air,</span><br /><span>And where it will strike in its rapid fall</span><br /><span>The boys are hastening there--</span><br /><span>And the parted lip and the eager eye</span><br /><span>Are following its descent,</span><br /><span>Whilst the baffl'd stumbler's falling cry</span><br /><span>With th'exulting shout is blent.</span><br /><span>The leader now of either band</span><br /><span>Picks cautiously his men,</span><br /><span>And the quickest foot and the roughest hand</span><br /><span>Are what he chooses then.</span><br /><span>And see!the ball with swift rebound,</span><br /><span>Flies from the swinging bat,</span><br /><span>While the player spurns the beaten ground,</span><br /><span>Nor heeds his wind-caught hat.</span><br /><span>But the ball is stopp'd in its quick career,</span><br /><span>And is sent with a well-aim'd fling,</span><br /><span>And he dodges to feel it whistling near,</span><br /><span>Or leaps at its sudden sting,</span><br /><span>Whilst the shot is hail'd with a hearty shout,</span><br /><span>As the wounded one stops short,</span><br /><span>For his 'side' by the luckless blow is out--</span><br /><span>And the others wait their sport.</span></p>
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<p>And now hurrah! for the speeding ball</p>
|Sources=<p><span>This poem, published&nbsp;</span><span>pseudonymously as the work of "William M. Christy" in 1845, is Melville's&nbsp;</span><span>first published work, according to &nbsp;Melville scholar&nbsp;<span>Jeanne C. Howes, author of a monograph entitled '"Poet of a&nbsp;</span><span>Morning: Herman Melville and the 'Redburn Poem': Redburn: Or the&nbsp;</span><span>Schoolmaster of a Morning". From 19cbb post by John Thorn, July 6, 2004</span></span></p>
+
<p>Is flung in viewless air,</p>
|Warning=<p><span>"In the case of the Redburn&nbsp;</span><span>poem, a strong competing interpretation concludes that HM is not&nbsp;</span><span>its author. I can't argue either side of Howes' hypothesis since&nbsp;</span><span>I have not read her work, and I only have a couple hundred words&nbsp;</span><span>of notes on the topic, but I think we all readily understand that&nbsp;</span><span>the attribution of Melville as author of this four canto poem is&nbsp;</span><span>not universally accepted." 19cbb post by Stephen Hoy, July 6, 2004</span></p>
+
<p>And where it will strike in its rapid fall</p>
|Comment=<p>These lines appear to be part of the poem&nbsp;<em>Redburn: Or the Schoolmaster of a Morning</em>, published under an apparent pseudonym in 1845 (or 1844). &nbsp;In 2000, Jeanne C. Howes published&nbsp;<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the "Redburn" Poem.</span> &nbsp;</p>
+
<p><span>The boys are hastening there--</span><br /><span>And the parted lip and the eager eye</span><br /><span>Are following its descent,</span><br /><span>Whilst the baffl'd stumbler's falling cry</span><br /><span>With th'exulting shout is blent.</span><br /><span>The leader now of either band</span><br /><span>Picks cautiously his men,</span><br /><span>And the quickest foot and the roughest hand</span><br /><span>Are what he chooses then.</span><br /><span>And see! the ball with swift rebound,</span><br /><span>Flies from the swinging bat,</span><br /><span>While the player spurns the beaten ground,</span><br /><span>Nor heeds his wind-caught hat.</span><br /><span>But the ball is stopp'd in its quick career,</span><br /><span>And is sent with a well-aim'd fling,</span><br /><span>And he dodges to feel it whistling near,</span><br /><span>Or leaps at its sudden sting,</span><br /><span>Whilst the shot is hail'd with a hearty shout,</span><br /><span>As the wounded one stops short,</span><br /><span>For his 'side' by the luckless blow is out--</span><br /><span>And the others wait their sport.</span></p>
 +
|Sources=<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
 +
<p><span>This poem, published&nbsp;</span><span>pseudonymously as the work of "William M. Christy" in 1845, is Melville's&nbsp;</span><span>first published work, according to &nbsp;Melville scholar&nbsp;<span>Jeanne C. Howes, author of a monograph entitled <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Poet of a&nbsp;</span></span><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Morning: Herman Melville and the 'Redburn Poem' -- Redburn (2000): Or the&nbsp;</span><span><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Schoolmaster of a Morning.</span>&nbsp;From a 19cbb post by John Thorn, July 6, 2004.&nbsp; See also John's 2012 commentary at&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/whitman-melville-and-baseball-662f5ef3583d">https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/whitman-melville-and-baseball-662f5ef3583d</a>.</span></span></p>
 +
|Warning=<p><span>There remains some question about Melville's authorship.&nbsp; &nbsp;See<strong>&nbsp;S</strong></span><strong>upplemental Material</strong>, below bb Stephen Hoy and Mark Pestana.</p>
 +
<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
 +
|Comment=<p>In 2000, Jeanne C. Howes published&nbsp;<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the "Redburn" Poem.</span> &nbsp;</p>
 
<p>The online blurb for this work states: &nbsp;"<span>In a tour de force of literary detection and scholarship, Jeanne Howes has conclusively proven that shortly after Herman Melville&rsquo;s return from the South Pacific in 1844 an anonymous book published in Manhattan, <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Redburn: or the Schoolmaster of a Morning</span>, is his first book. Early scholars pondered whether this book might have been written by Melville but dismissed it since not enough was then known about Melville&rsquo;s life and writings. Serious scholarship did not begin until the 1920s, as Herman Melville, the great dark god of American letters had fallen into an obscurity so encompassing that at the time of his death in 1891 he was entirely forgotten by the literary community."</span></p>
 
<p>The online blurb for this work states: &nbsp;"<span>In a tour de force of literary detection and scholarship, Jeanne Howes has conclusively proven that shortly after Herman Melville&rsquo;s return from the South Pacific in 1844 an anonymous book published in Manhattan, <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Redburn: or the Schoolmaster of a Morning</span>, is his first book. Early scholars pondered whether this book might have been written by Melville but dismissed it since not enough was then known about Melville&rsquo;s life and writings. Serious scholarship did not begin until the 1920s, as Herman Melville, the great dark god of American letters had fallen into an obscurity so encompassing that at the time of his death in 1891 he was entirely forgotten by the literary community."</span></p>
<p><span>An annotation: "Possibly written about a game played by the schoolboys attending Sykes District School in Pittsfield where Melville, as an 18 year old taught for a short while before he went to sea." He shipped out in 1841.</span></p>
+
<p><span>A further annotation: "Possibly written about a game played by the schoolboys attending Sykes District School in Pittsfield where Melville, as an 18 year old taught for a short while before he went to sea." He shipped out in 1841.</span></p>
 
<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
 
<p><span>&nbsp;</span></p>
 
|Query=<p>Further opinions about this poem's description of a baserunning game with plugging are welcome.</p>
 
|Query=<p>Further opinions about this poem's description of a baserunning game with plugging are welcome.</p>
 +
<p>It would be very nice if we had a reliable idea of where the the ball was flung:&nbsp; Pittsfield MA is suggested by Howes, but there was a William M. Christy who was associated with Philadelphia in the 1840s.&nbsp;</p>
 
|Submitted by=John Thorn, Bob Tholkes,
 
|Submitted by=John Thorn, Bob Tholkes,
 
|Submission Note=JT: 19CBB post 7/6/2004; RJT posting of 2/12/2015
 
|Submission Note=JT: 19CBB post 7/6/2004; RJT posting of 2/12/2015
 
|Reviewed=Yes
 
|Reviewed=Yes
|Has Supplemental Text=No
+
|Has Supplemental Text=Yes
 
}}
 
}}
 +
<p>&nbsp;</p>
 +
<p><strong>A]</strong> "In the case of the Redburn&nbsp;poem, a strong competing interpretation concludes that HM is not&nbsp;its author. I can't argue either side of Howes' hypothesis since&nbsp;I have not read her work, and I only have a couple hundred words&nbsp;of notes on the topic, but I think we all readily understand that&nbsp;the attribution of Melville as author of this four canto poem is&nbsp;not universally accepted."</p>
 +
<p>--19cbb post by Stephen Hoy, July 6, 2004</p>
 +
<p>---</p>
 +
<p><strong>B]&nbsp;</strong>Interesting.</p>
 +
<p><br />Not having read Ms. Howes&rsquo; work, I can&rsquo;t assess the strength of her argument in favor of the Melville attribution, but the evidence at hand gives serious doubt. The lines on ballplay come from a longer poem apparently about a schoolmaster named Redburn. Now, Melville did publish a book in 1849 called &ldquo;Redburn: His First Voyage&rdquo; but that was in prose and clearly about a different Redburn, a sailor, and there is no indication of any connection beyond the surname employed in both works. Melville did write a lot of poetry - and very good poetry at that &ndash; but his first certified collection of verse was not published until the 1860s. Which is not to say that this poetic &ldquo;Redburn&rdquo; couldn&rsquo;t be an early lark by a 25-year-old beginning writer. But his first definite publication, the novel <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Typee</span>, came out in 1846, under his own name, and one wonders why he would have published the Redburn poem only a year earlier under the name of William M. Christy. A quick google search shows a printer named William M. Christy flourishing in 1840s Philadelphia, and he seems a more likely candidate for authorship.</p>
 +
<p><br />At any rate, the Redburn stanzas on what sounds like early baseball or town ball, are decent enough verse, and paint a pretty effective picture of a fast-moving game requiring skill &amp; strategy. This piece should be better known!&nbsp;</p>
 +
<p>-- Mark Pestana, email of 1/9/2020.</p>

Revision as of 10:26, 9 January 2020

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"Speeding Ball Is Flung" Poem Appears -- Some Think Melville Wrote It

Salience Peripheral
Tags Ball in the Culture, Pre-modern Rules
City/State/Country: MA?, United States
Game Unnamed plugging game
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Juvenile
Text

 

And now hurrah! for the speeding ball

Is flung in viewless air,

And where it will strike in its rapid fall

The boys are hastening there--
And the parted lip and the eager eye
Are following its descent,
Whilst the baffl'd stumbler's falling cry
With th'exulting shout is blent.
The leader now of either band
Picks cautiously his men,
And the quickest foot and the roughest hand
Are what he chooses then.
And see! the ball with swift rebound,
Flies from the swinging bat,
While the player spurns the beaten ground,
Nor heeds his wind-caught hat.
But the ball is stopp'd in its quick career,
And is sent with a well-aim'd fling,
And he dodges to feel it whistling near,
Or leaps at its sudden sting,
Whilst the shot is hail'd with a hearty shout,
As the wounded one stops short,
For his 'side' by the luckless blow is out--
And the others wait their sport.

Sources

 

This poem, published pseudonymously as the work of "William M. Christy" in 1845, is Melville's first published work, according to  Melville scholar Jeanne C. Howes, author of a monograph entitled Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the 'Redburn Poem' -- Redburn (2000): Or the Schoolmaster of a Morning. From a 19cbb post by John Thorn, July 6, 2004.  See also John's 2012 commentary at  https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/whitman-melville-and-baseball-662f5ef3583d.

Warning

There remains some question about Melville's authorship.   See Supplemental Material, below bb Stephen Hoy and Mark Pestana.

 

Comment

In 2000, Jeanne C. Howes published Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the "Redburn" Poem.  

The online blurb for this work states:  "In a tour de force of literary detection and scholarship, Jeanne Howes has conclusively proven that shortly after Herman Melville’s return from the South Pacific in 1844 an anonymous book published in Manhattan, Redburn: or the Schoolmaster of a Morning, is his first book. Early scholars pondered whether this book might have been written by Melville but dismissed it since not enough was then known about Melville’s life and writings. Serious scholarship did not begin until the 1920s, as Herman Melville, the great dark god of American letters had fallen into an obscurity so encompassing that at the time of his death in 1891 he was entirely forgotten by the literary community."

A further annotation: "Possibly written about a game played by the schoolboys attending Sykes District School in Pittsfield where Melville, as an 18 year old taught for a short while before he went to sea." He shipped out in 1841.

 

Edit with form to add a comment
Query

Further opinions about this poem's description of a baserunning game with plugging are welcome.

It would be very nice if we had a reliable idea of where the the ball was flung:  Pittsfield MA is suggested by Howes, but there was a William M. Christy who was associated with Philadelphia in the 1840s. 

Edit with form to add a query
Submitted by John Thorn, Bob Tholkes,
Submission Note JT: 19CBB post 7/6/2004; RJT posting of 2/12/2015
Has Supplemental Text Yes



Comments

<comments voting="Plus" />

Supplemental Text

 

A] "In the case of the Redburn poem, a strong competing interpretation concludes that HM is not its author. I can't argue either side of Howes' hypothesis since I have not read her work, and I only have a couple hundred words of notes on the topic, but I think we all readily understand that the attribution of Melville as author of this four canto poem is not universally accepted."

--19cbb post by Stephen Hoy, July 6, 2004

---

B] Interesting.


Not having read Ms. Howes’ work, I can’t assess the strength of her argument in favor of the Melville attribution, but the evidence at hand gives serious doubt. The lines on ballplay come from a longer poem apparently about a schoolmaster named Redburn. Now, Melville did publish a book in 1849 called “Redburn: His First Voyage” but that was in prose and clearly about a different Redburn, a sailor, and there is no indication of any connection beyond the surname employed in both works. Melville did write a lot of poetry - and very good poetry at that – but his first certified collection of verse was not published until the 1860s. Which is not to say that this poetic “Redburn” couldn’t be an early lark by a 25-year-old beginning writer. But his first definite publication, the novel Typee, came out in 1846, under his own name, and one wonders why he would have published the Redburn poem only a year earlier under the name of William M. Christy. A quick google search shows a printer named William M. Christy flourishing in 1840s Philadelphia, and he seems a more likely candidate for authorship.


At any rate, the Redburn stanzas on what sounds like early baseball or town ball, are decent enough verse, and paint a pretty effective picture of a fast-moving game requiring skill & strategy. This piece should be better known! 

-- Mark Pestana, email of 1/9/2020.