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When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

Walt Whitman

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learn'd astronomer
Added by: maggie morrow
I think this poem easily points to one of the biggest mistakes many teachers still make today and make over and over again knowing it isn't enforcing any learning. Whitman recognized long ago, as well as other great minds like his who thought education important, that students don't learn if all the instructor does is talk. Interaction through various mediums enforces memorization, vizualization, and relation. Its simple to think how much more an astronomy lesson can mean to any student when they can view a night sky, whether real or fabricated, and see the beauty of the science at work.
Added by: Sean
I don't think this poem is geared towards education. It is about man taking nature (stars) and breaking it down into charts and graphs instead of appreciating it for what it is. The sickness of the speaker comes from the unwarranted applause the astronomer receives. This sickens the speaker because the astronomer has ruined something beautiful, or because the astronomer is stealing the credit from nature/God. The poems starts to mellow out once he is outside and looking at the true beauty of nature/God.
Added by: Quaker Lady
This reminds me of organized religion and how you can only truly communicate with God on your own, by looking up.
Added by: Amit Srivastava
The poet expresses that the science and technology are not necessary path of apprepiation.
When I heard learn'd Walt...
Added by: Lee Breton Neikirk
As it was said, Whitman doesn't see the merit in what the Astronomer has done; he feels he loses "himself" in the technicalities of discussing charts and diagrams, and would rather go out and applaud the Creator of those stars rather than the Astronomer, who is not quite so learn'd as one might think.
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
Added by: Sarah
One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that the narrator chose to hear the astronomer. The element of choice is key in this poem. The narrator is passively receptive once in the lecture hall, but there is an no question of self-determination in the juxtaposition of attending a popular lecture with other eager fans and then leaving. The narrator seeks knowledge and yet loves the simplicity of nature. There is some joy to be had both from stimulating intellectual pursuits and simply existing in the glorious universe.
Added by: garrett
i think whitman is aiming to point out the fact that sometimes it's better just to enjoy things at face value rather than kill ourselves trying to pick them apart and undertand what makes them "tick"
Added by: Lisa G.
I agree with Garrett. I also think old Walt would let out a barbaric yawp if he saw people picking apart this poem like this. To me it seems like they might be missing the whole point.
Added by: Lia Parisyan
I think the poem is about nature and how science and man destroy its wonders, by trying to quantify and order it's natural phenomenon. Whitman, was born in 1819, Long Island and at that time the area was a pastoral escape from the urbanized and polluted city. Whitman in his work conveys the destruction of nature and simplicity, through the introduction of complex technology. I think this poem sums up Whitman's fascination, inspiration and respect for nature. Although the lecturer impresses his audience with charts and figures, so much of the universe remains unfathomable, and Whitman, masterfully conveys this point as an awed, silent stargazer.
Added by: elizabeth
you cant know what whitman thinks. ever. two words: intentional fallacy!!!! hows that for some brachylogica?

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