William Heyen

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What form does the poem "Mantle" by William Heyen take?

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Mantle by William Heyen is an example of a shape poem.

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"Mantle" by William Heyen is an example of what's called a shape poem. This is a form of verse where the shape in which it's composed conveys a particular meaning. So if you look at "Mantle" you can see how the poem is shaped like one of the many curveballs that Mickey Mantle faced throughout his long, illustrious career.

The shape of the poem also conveys the sadness that the speaker feels now that Mantle's no longer hitting homers and winning the triple crown but making a living doing Brylcreem commercials. As the last stanza makes clear, the future once belonged to Mickey Mantle; but now that his sporting career is long since over, his whole life has gone from being a fast ball to a slow curve.

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Ah, are you too young to remember the famous baseball player Micky Mantle? That is what this poem is about. The author is remembering the amazing career of this player (who was from Oklahoma, by the way, just as the poem says) who could bat either right handed or left handed (also alluded to in the poem). The author says that as a boy, he followed Mantle's career, hoping he would retire from baseball before his batting average started to drop. Sadly, Mantle did not do this, says the author, and now, he is good for nothing but TV commercials:

He makes Brylcreem commercials now,

models with opened mouths draped around him

Brylcreem was a men's hair gel back in the day. The last paragraph sadly realizes that Mantle's excellent batting faded into something so much less - like a model's smile. How much better to be batting in a baseball game than to be hawking Brylcreem. The poem's theme is that nothing lasts forever. It is pretty sad.

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