“The Pitcher” by Robert Francis has a literal and metaphorical meaning. The literal meaning is on the surface of the poem which is in relation to the game of baseball between the pitcher and the batter. The pitcher desires to mislead the batter but help the batter understand as well. The metaphorical meaning is much deeper than baseball; however, it is in comparison to an artist and his piece of work. Francis utilizes strong diction, basic two line poem structure and simple rhymes to convey the sport of baseball into something more unique.
The use of strong diction throughout the poem is used to portray more than baseball. He makes use of odd words to make things appear one way but in reality mean another. For instance, in line 2 Francis says, “How not to hit the mark he seems to aims at it”. The pitcher is aiming at the strike zone with the intention of throwing where the batter will hopefully miss the ball. He has a goal to trick the batter. Instead of using slang or simple baseball terminology Francis use deeper terms to describe the game of baseball or the artist’s work of art.
Within the poem words such as eccentric, errant, arrant, passion, technique, and communication are used to describe the pitcher. Also, phrases are used for description of the pitcher. Such as in line 4, “avoid the obvious” or in line 6, “moment misunderstood”. On the other hand these are similar words used when exercising poem critiquing. He applies the same words for critiquing a poem and the description of a pitcher to give an idea of their relation to one another. Among the elation of poetry and baseball Francis position two words side by side that are similar in sound to create alliteration and connotation. In lines 7-8 alliteration and connotation is produced, “Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild, But every seeming aberration willed”. Francis use of errant and arrant is both a connotation and alliteration. Most importantly these two words have the same sound but a different meaning, and still have the ability to properly describe the art of the pitcher.
The basic two line structure in each stanza of the poem helps to comprehend the entire thought of each word easily. Moreover, the consistency of the two line structure creates a rhythmic sound for the reader. Rhymes are created, for example, in lines 9-10 “Not to, yet still, still communicate, making the batter understand too late”. He tries to take a different approach between the batter and pitcher. He provides closure between the two by making the last two stanzas rhyme. Francis use two diverse thoughts to bring the pitcher and the batter back together.
The batter will eventually understand the batter but right when he does understand it will be a bit too late. In conclusion, the word “art” in the first line refers to the pitchers pitch as a work of art. The pitcher is not only an athlete; he is an artist as well. Like an artist or poet a pitcher does not want to be predictable and obvious. A pitcher wishes to mislead its reader but a poet does not. A pitcher aims to baffle his opponent on the field. He who is wise will not by any means allow his old or new challenger to understand his intentions or goal.