Phil Rizzuto played shortstop for the New York Yankees from 1941 to 1956 and later became the voice of the Yankees on radio and television.
In 1997, journalist Hart Seely and comic-book creator Tom Peyer published a collection of excerpts from Rizzuto's play-by-play broadcasts as O Holy Cow! The Collected Verse of Phil Rizzuto. (Seely has also published a collection of "poetry" by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.)
One reason I asked you to look at a sample of Rizzuto's "poetry" (login required) is that what Hart and Seely did is no different from what William Butler Yeats did when, for the 1936 Oxford Book of Modern Verse, he took a snippet from Walter Pater's prose impression of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and printed it as verse:
She is older than the rocks among which she sits;
Like the Vampire,
She has been dead many times,
And learned the secrets of the grave;
And has been a diver in deep seas,
And keeps their fallen day about her;
And trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants;
And, as Leda,
Was the mother of Helen of Troy,
And, as St Anne,
Was the mother of Mary;
And all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes,
Only in the delicacy
With which it has moulded the changing lineaments,
And tinged the eyelids and the hands.
Certainly Pater's prose has a lyrical quality that makes Yeats' transformation (McGann might regard it as a "deformance") easy and that illustrates Cob's comment, on Leandra's post "What makes a poem", that there's "a certain atmosphere to poetry, lending itself to the word 'poetic'" that's independent of a poem's form.
But it's also remarkable how readily Rizzuto's ordinary talk seems to take on this "poetic" quality as soon as it's set on the page as verse. Giving each extract a title makes a difference, too.
When I'm driving
To Yankee Stadium and back,
I do it so often.
I don't remember passing lights.
I don't remember paying tolls
Coming over the bridge.
Going back over the bridge,
"O What a Huddle Out There," Rizzuto's call of the famous George Brett pine-tar incident feels, in places, a bit like it's coming from an ancient narrator recalling the deeds of giants:
Now I had started to tell you,
When I saw Billy Martin make the motion
For Gossage to come on
That it brings back some nightmares.
And they called Thurman Munson out,
And Martin has a very valid argument here,
And if he wins this,
There will be chaos.
So here's a question: How is the way we take in a stretch of language changed when the language is set out as verse? What is it about this change that gives the language the "feel" of poetry?