Friday, September 5, 2008

When I Heard the Learned Astronomer: A Poetry Friday Post

When I Heard the Learned 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 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.

This is one of my all-time favorite poems and I thought it was appropriate to post it now as most everyone has started back to school. In high school some of my friends who went to another school had to do a biology lab in which they learned about what makes fireflies glow. I remember thinking, How awful, then you'd never again be able to look at a firefly with the same childish delight and fascination. It's the one time in my life that I was glad I didn't learn something.

To learn more about Poetry Friday, visit Big A little a. This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at Wild Rose Reader.


  1. A lovely and important idea - turning away from the charts and diagrams to look at the stars.

  2. Um...nice poem!

    although I secretly would like to know more about what makes fireflys glow. And more to the point, where they all have gone (we had one this summer) and what I can do to help them.


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