3rd Inning, Convictions Poetry Slam

3rd Inning, Convictions Poetry Slam

3rd Inning, Convictions Poetry Slam

Slate's blog on legal issues.
April 5 2008 8:00 PM

3rd Inning, Convictions Poetry Slam

With the  White Sox on a three-game win streak and tied for first in their division, seems as good a time as any to play  inning No. 3 of Convictions Poetry Slam .
Today's Poetry Month nominee represents the most straightforward of the Slam's categories: No. 1, " use of poetry in legal writing , by judges, lawyers, or legal scholars."  Waxing poetic is the late Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun , a lifelong National League fan. Blackmun's 1972 pæan to baseball, Flood v. Kuhn , included a famous footnote 4:
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Millions have known and enjoyed baseball. One writer knowledgeable in the field of sports almost assumed that everyone did until, one day, he discovered otherwise:
"I knew a cove who'd never heard of Washington and Lee,"
"Of Caesar and Napoleon from the ancient jamboree,"
"But, bli'me, there are queerer things than anything like that,"
"For here's a cove who never heard of 'Casey at the Bat'!"
"* * * *"
"Ten million never heard of Keats, or Shelley, Burns or Poe;"
"But they know 'the air was shattered by the force of Casey's blow';"
"They never heard of Shakespeare, nor of Dickens, like as not,"
"But they know the somber drama from old Mudville's haunted lot."
"He never heard of Casey! Am I dreaming? Is it true?"
"Is fame but windblown ashes when the summer day is through?"
"Does greatness fade so quickly and is grandeur doomed to die"
"That bloomed in early morning, ere the dusk rides down the sky?"
—"He Never Heard of Casey" Grantland Rice, The Sportlight, New York Herald Tribune, June 1, 1926, p. 23.
Blackmun's equally famous Footnote 5 continued in-verse, quoting the "Tinkers to Evers to Chance" refrain from Franklin Pierce Adams' "Baseball's Sad Lexicon."
In all, a boldly boyish use of poetry in legal reasoning.
To the rest of the Convictions team and all those in our virtual stands: Batter Up.