Custom «When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer» Essay Paper Sample

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

This poem has been written by Walt Whitman. It is about a narrator who listens to an astronomer and is not impressed by his speech. The poet tries to show that it is better to allow nature remain puzzling and mysterious than making it orderly. This paper will focus on an argumentative analysis of the poem.

The phrase ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer’ shows that the poet was not a part of the group of people who were giving a round of applause to the astronomer in the lecture room. This implies that he did not show respect and was not in agreement with what the astronomer said. Also, it can be suggested that although the crowd took keen interest on the astronomer, the narrator might have been greatly confused (Moliken and Null 14). Everyone in the room, apart from the narrator, is in a terrific and cheering mood. The astronomer must be very entertaining, being able to capture the attention of every person in the lecture hall. These types of events were commonly used for entertainment purposes during the 19th century. They were mainly conducted in big halls that were constructed in major towns. As a matter of fact, the crowd sees smartness and kindness in the astronomer, something that Walt does not notice (Moliken and Null 14). The astronomer takes his time to explain intricate scientific concepts to ordinary people.

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The word “learn’d” has been used to imply that the astronomer was an educated man. However, this word has been condensed from “learn-ed”, which is an older style. In addition, this message is found in the fourth line of the poem and helps to describe and magnify the atmosphere in the lecture room. In the fifth line of the poem, the narrator suggests that he became sick after listening to the astronomer (Moliken and Null 14). This could be a little exaggerated, since there was no explanation given as to why his annoyance by the astronomer’s speech resulted to immediate physical sickness. He continued in the sixth line to illustrate how he left the lecture room after he was unable to tolerate the astronomer any more.

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Although he described the moment as ‘gliding out’ to show how he left the room gracefully, he might have irritated everyone around him due to his perturbing nature. After he got outside, the narrator looked silently at the stars (Moliken and Null 14). This silence was an indication of his respect for nature and the mysteriousness that abound with it. The silence can also be an indication of how it perfectly engulfed nature. The central message in the poem is to allow nature to remain intact and not take it apart into separate pieces. As a matter of fact, he accorded different levels of respect to astronomer and nature (Moliken and Null 14).

The diction of this poem contributes a lot in shaping the implication of the poem. Everywhere the word ‘when’ is used, especially at the beginning of a sentence, it provides the feeling and essence of the sentence. Repetitive usage of this word depicts its significance. It is a unique feature that gives chanting quality to the poem. The narrator also makes use of folksy speech model to make fun at the astronomer. He shows how the astronomer uses mathematical proofs, which comprise of figures and numbers and are illustrations of the facts of a statement of equation. When he uses words such as ‘add’, ‘divide’ and ‘measure’, he is using a visual demonstration to refer to astronomical occurrences (Moliken and Null 14). This is because it would prove unrealistic to literally divide visual figure such as a diagram or a chart.

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