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 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.
Just wanted to share some genius with you today. Those old poets really knew how to make a point. I had a really tough English teacher two years in a row. A.P. English was perhaps the most difficult class I ever took. But Mrs. H pushed my lazy ass and I wrote. I also got grounded if my grade was below a B and in Mrs. H’s class a C was normal. I got grounded a few times but usually I intercepted the PINK SLIP she would write to alert my mother of my shameful grade. I remember reading this and totally understanding it, I had the best discussion with Mrs. H about this poem. I got an A.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is America’s world poet
— a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. In his Leaves of Grass
, first published in 1855 and revised and expanded for the rest of his life, he celebrated democracy, nature, love, and friendship. This monumental work chanted praises to the body as well as to the soul, and found beauty and reassurance even in death.