What Figurative Language Is Used in the Poem 'Casey at the Bat'?

Figurative language uses words that cannot be taken literally to convey meaning, often as comparisons. In "Casey At the Bat," poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer uses hyperbole, personification, similes and metaphors.


Hyperbole is exaggeration. When Thayer writes, "Cooney died at first" or that Blake "tore the cover off the ball," he is exaggerating the reality. In the same way the umpire wasn't likely in danger from the person yelling, "Kill the umpire!" and the air was not really "shattered by the force of Casey's blow."


In personification, the poet gives a human quality to a nonhuman object. For example, Thayer writes that "5,000 tongues applauded," meaning the fans cheered, and "upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat," showing the fans are sad.


A simile draws an explicit comparison using words such as "like" or "as." One simile describes the crowd's displeasure with the umpire's strike call against Casey. Thayer writes that they give "a muffled roar, like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore."


With a metaphor, a comparison is also made but without the qualification of "like" or "as." Thayer writes that Flynn "was a lulu" and Blake "was a cake" to mean they were not good players. Later he writes, "hearts are light" to mean people are happy.

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