Underdog stories exist to inspire, which is why we like them. Stories of the favored exist to provide caution, which is why we ignore them.
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
There is still much to learn from poetry. I know, I know. Poetry? It's not facts and figures, and it's not memes. So who has time for it? But they hold value, lots of it. Feelings are intangible; they can't be described literally but only as figurative truths. Moral lessons? You state them clearly, and they lose all their power — leaving us to learn the hard way. That's if we learn at all. Yet these are the flexed muscles of poetry. They capture a sentiment and save us from having to learn through painful experience.
And I can't begin to quantify how much heartache Ernest Lawrence Thayer's "Casey at the Bat" has saved me. (I can't count it since it's never happened — another thing that cannot be explained by facts and figures.) Written June 3, 1888, it has become one of the best-known American poems. One that I recommend often, especially to those who think themselves goliaths.
Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888
Underdog stories exist to inspire, which is why we like them. Stories of the favored exist to provide caution, which is why we ignore them. When a heavy favorite loses to an upstart, we want to know all the things the underdog did right, but more often than not, the outcome is decided by all the things the front-runner did wrong. Hubris. Even a child knows this, we learn it in grade school. (But then we get old and forget why literature exists.)
So the lesson is this: No matter where you're ranked, fight like you're in last place. And when trying to make sense of why a team (sports or political) loses a game they should have won, look no further than "Casey at the Bat." Consider it mandatory reading for the school of life.
Useful Companions (Improve Your Education and This Site by Buying a Book):
- Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 – Ernest L. Thayer (Author), C. F. Payne (Illustrator)