Friday, April 15, 2011


For American Lit 1, I had to read a Walt Whitman poem. I generally like Walt Whitman, but he usually doesn't stick with me. This poem did stick with me. Partially because Jeremy Carnes did a great presentation on him and partially because it sounded so close to something Carl Sagan would say. And it is short, which makes Whitman easier to handle. Sometimes he's just way too much for one person to read.

Really, though, this poem isn't singular to astronomy. The divide between learning and then the application of that learning to reality and vica versa. Made me think of literary theory, actually; often decried as pedantic and pretentious (what do THEY know anyway), I've found understanding theory has helped me appreciate and understand the mechanics of our daily interactions more meaningfully. It all goes back to texts and how we deal with them, but in such a text-heavy society, well. Let's just say I'm more attuned to how gender, culture, economics, and all that work in the grand scheme of things.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
By Walt Whitman

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 the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the
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.

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