Poetry became my enthusiasm after I dropped in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English course circa 1962.

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Introduction and also Text that "When i Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"

Whitman's "When i Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" provides a revealing examine in contrasts between science and also poetry. The speaker makes his preference known that he favors looking in ~ the stars over examining them.

The speaker is a transcendentalist-romantic individual who is more interested in the life of the senses 보다 the life that the mind. Interestingly, however, this speak demonstrates that, in details instances, the senses have the right to lead come a an ext spiritual experience than the mind. The speaker prefers come indulge his an intricate rather than pay fist to the measure distances between heavenly bodies.

When ns Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When i heard the learn’d astronomer, when the proofs, the figures, to be ranged in columns before me, when I was presented the charts and diagrams, come add, divide, and measure them, when I sit heard the astronomer whereby he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, how soon unaccountable I came to be tired and sick, it spins rising and gliding out ns wander’d turn off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and also from time come time, Look’d increase in perfect silence at the stars.


Walt Whitman's sprawling eight-line city showcases the poet's freewheeling format while dramatizing the madness romantic people view portrayed in almost all of his poems.

First Movement: once vs After

When i heard the learn’d astronomer, as soon as the proofs, the figures, to be ranged in columns before me, as soon as I was shown the charts and also diagrams, to add, divide, and also measure them, as soon as I sitting heard the astronomer wherein he lectured with lot applause in the lecture-room,

The first movement that Whitman's significant poem consists of 4 adverbial clauses beginning with "when":

1. Once he listened come the lecture, 2. As soon as the numbers to be presented, 3. As soon as "the charts and also the diagrams" to be shown, 4. Once he heard the audience's cheer the "learn'd astronomer."

A fascinating riddle poses the question: "When the man jumped off the building, wherein was he?"

Possible answers: —Until that hit the ground, he was in the air— What's wrong through that answer? that was "after" he jumped.

Then the human being riddled could respond: —still standing on the optimal of the building— not correct because, that was "before" he jumped.

This riddle is instructive because that language use particularly use in poetry. The adverb "when" is a flabby word, bring about the pass out of unclarity as linked with an action. Thus, whenever possible, one demands to think about whether the activity occurred "before" or "after" the an initial event. Whitman to be such one astute observer that both events and also language, but this poem could use one last revision changing the "when" rule to "after" clauses because that is the precise time frames for each of the actions that he mentions.

The leader will keep in mind that is was, actually, "after" all the adhering to that he ended up being "tired and sick" and determined to gain up and also leave:

1. After he had heard the scientist 2. After ~ he had seen the stats and numbers 3. After he had been presented the charts 4. ~ he had heard the other audience members applauding the astronomer.

Second Movement: After growing Sick and also Tired

How soon unaccountable I ended up being tired and also sick, it spins rising and gliding out ns wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and also from time to time, Look’d up in perfect quiet at the stars.

After the speaker had listened come a part of the lecture, he gets up and also leaves the class hall, go out right into the update night air and looks up at the stars. The event is simple, however the speaker's dramatic portrayal of his actions improves the act and also makes that so much an ext interesting and also meaningful 보다 the only event. For example, the use of the word "unaccountable" contrasts through all the counting the was going on by the lecturer. The speak is merely remarking the he prospered "tired and sick" while listening, but he go not recognize why.

The speaker seems to have actually no reason for this reaction. He is cleverly leave that thinking up the leader to discern, after the paints his portrait of organic beauty in the final three lines, in which the reports the he rose from his seat, moved out into the night alone, and then off and on gazed increase to the heavens, whereby he to be treated to the "perfect silence at the stars."

Those last lines comparison the stuffy great hall v the lushness the the an excellent outdoors; they comparison the enjoyment of being alone together opposed to being surrounding by people in the stuffy class hall. The night waiting is "mystical"—the speaker is carried to a transcendental height by the straightforward "moist night-air."

And the ideal of every the observant speaker conserves for the last; in contrast to the stable pace of the lecture, he leisurely "from time to time"—no hurry, no schedule, no following someone else's line of thought—gazes up right into the heavens and observes the brilliance the the stars themselves, instead of simply hearing around them with charts, diagrams, and also numbers.

This contents is accurate and true come the ideal of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute because that formal and individualized advice indigenous a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why is “learn'd” abbreviated?

Answer: That’s just the poet’s stylistic choice.

Question: What is the layout in Whitman's "When ns Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"?

Answer: Whitman's "When i Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" provides a research in contrasts in between science and also poetry. The speaker makes his preference well-known that that favors looking at the stars fairly than researching them.

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Question: which words or phrases show that the astronomer is respect by the poet and the audience?

Answer: The paragraph "learn'd astronomer" and also "lectured with lot applause" indicate that the astronomer garners respect, no necessarily from the poet/speaker however likely indigenous the audience and also others acquainted v the astronomer's work.