When I Heard The Learned Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

by Walt Whitman

Comments (2)

A nearly perfect poem in the changing sounds (pitch, internal rhyme or its absence, rhythm, and more) from pleasant to irritating to fatigue and then positive resolution marry sound effects with emotion so effectively. And what a marvelous resolution!
In the poem “When I Heard the learned the learn’d astronomer”, Walt Whitman explores the concept that you can understand nature better just by sitting and observing over a variety of math equations and diagrams.