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When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer Analysis

Author: poem of Walt Whitman Type: poem Views: 51

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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.


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The simple subject of the poem is that instead of analysing things (nature/stars), go to the source for pure enjoyment. The first line is \"When I heard the lern\'d astronomer\' and the last line is \"Look\'d up in perfect silence at the stars\". These two lines clearly state that the poem is about astronomy and stars and something about looking at the stars is better than hearing the smart guy talk. This poem was one of the first free verse poems, so, it doesn\'t have a rhyme scheme and meter. However, it still contains poetic devices; hyperbole, alliteration and tautology. The device hyperbole appears only once, in \"gliding\". We know that speaker can\'t glide, so he exaggerates the smoothness and ease of his exit from the room. Walt uses alliteration in \"mystical moist night-air\" to make that phrase sound more mystical. The phrase \"perfect silence\" is an example of tautology, and tautology a type of logical repetition. The word \"silence\" is already perfect in its definition and adding perfect before it just emphasises the perfectness of the silence.

| Posted on 2010-12-09 | by a guest

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