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When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

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By: (1819-1892)

"When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer" by Walt Whitman is a thought-provoking and introspective look at the dichotomy between scientific study and personal experience. The poem follows the speaker as he attends a lecture by a learned astronomer, who presents facts and figures about the stars and planets in a dispassionate and detached manner. However, the speaker finds himself feeling disconnected from the information presented, yearning for a more intimate and emotional connection to the beauty of the night sky.

Whitman's use of vivid imagery and evocative language effectively conveys the speaker's sense of disillusionment and longing for a deeper connection with the natural world. The poem serves as a reminder of the limitations of intellectual study and the importance of experiencing and appreciating the wonders of the universe on a personal level.

Overall, "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer" is a powerful and moving piece that encourages readers to reflect on the importance of balancing knowledge and understanding with a sense of wonder and awe. Whitman's timeless exploration of the intersection between science and spirituality continues to resonate with readers today.

Book Description:
Whitman claimed that after years of competing for "the usual rewards", he determined to become a poet. He first experimented with a variety of popular literary genres which appealed to the cultural tastes of the period. As early as 1850, he began writing what would become Leaves of Grass, a collection of poetry which he would continue editing and revising until his death. Whitman intended to write a distinctly American epic and used free verse with a cadence based on the Bible. At the end of June 1855, Whitman surprised his brothers with the already-printed first edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman paid for the publication of the first edition of Leaves of Grass himself.

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