Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 31: Hyperbole: Casey at the Bat

by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Performer: Librivox - David Lawrence

It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day:

The score stood four to six with just an inning left to play;

And so, when Cooney died at first, and Burrows did the same,

A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest

With that hope that springs eternal within the human breast;

For they thought if only Casey could get one whack, at that

They'd put up even money, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, and so likewise did Blake,

But the former was a pudding, and the latter was a fake;

And so, on that stricken multitude a death-like silence sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single to the wonderment of all,

And the much-despisèd Blaikie tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had settled, and they saw what had occurred,

There was Blaikie safe on second and Flynn a-hugging third!

Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell,

It bounded from the mountain-top, and rattled in the dell,

It struck upon the hillside, and rebounded on the flat;

For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place,

There was pride in Casey's bearing, and a smile on Casey's face;

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt,

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;

Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance glanced in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there;

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped:

"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone in the stand.

And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;

He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew,

But Casey still ignored it; and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered, "Fraud!"

But the scornful look from Casey, and the audience was awed;

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched with hate;

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

    Literary Devices Literary Devices    

Lesson 31: Hyperbole: Casey at the Bat

by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Performer: Librivox - David Lawrence


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


'Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in 1888' by Ernest Lawrence Thayer describes the home baseball team of Mudville in a desperate situation. It's the final inning, and Mudville must score or lose the game. Mudville is currently down, six to four. Two batters have struck out, one is on second base, and another is on third base. Luckily for the Mudville team, Casey, the team's superstar, is up to bat. Casey lets the first two pitches go by without swinging, racking up two strikes. One more strike, and Mudville will lose the game. Will Casey knock it out of the park? Will Casey strike out? The poem reveals the answer.


Poets often use literary devices, defined as 'rules of thumb, convention, or structure that are employed in literature and storytelling.'

The nine literary devices we'll study include:

  1. Rhyming
  2. Alliteration
  3. Similes
  4. Metaphors
  5. Personification
  6. Foreshadowing
  7. Allusion
  8. Hyperbole
  9. Onomatopoeia

Hyperbole is a literary device whereby an author makes a deliberate or unintentional overstatement.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem. How does the image differ from the poem?

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Identify Hyperbole in the Examples

Read aloud the examples below and identify the hyperboles.

  • My love for your burns brighter than a million suns.
  • My backpack weighs a ton.
  • He's as tall as a mountain.
  • She's as small as a mouse.

Activity 5: Identify the Rhyme Scheme

Review the poem and identify the pattern of its rhyming scheme. (e.g. ABBACDCD, etc.)

Activity 6: Identify Alliteration

Review the poem and point out any instances of alliteration.

Activity 7: Identify Similes

  • Review the poem excerpts and identify any similes.
  • Name the pairs of elements that the similes compare.

Activity 8: Identify Hyperbole

Review the poem excerpts below and identify the instances of hyperbole.

  • 'Kill him! Kill the umpire!' shouted someone in the stand. - And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
  • And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Activity 9: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 94-96 of 'Elementary Poetry 5: Literary Devices.'


  1. 'Hyperbole.' Wikipedia. n.p.