Monday, April 30, 2012

The Mnemosyne Weekly: Poem Nine (Whitman)

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

Every year, The Montgomery Literary Arts Council hosts a Walt Whitman Birthday Reading in Conroe, Texas. This year, on 5/10/12 at 3 PM at LSC-Montgomery, Bruce Noll will present, Pure Grass, a dramatic program composed of excerpts from Whitman's Leaves of Grass. At 7:00 PM, a group of twenty poets, including yours truly, will gather at The Corner Pub to each read one poem of our own and one of Whitman's. The ever affable and always festive Dave Parsons will emcee.

This week I will memorize the "When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer," the poem I intend to read on the tenth. I was recently reminded how much I love this poem when I heard Lois P. Jones interview Neil DeGrasse Tyson for Poets Cafe. It's a great interview. I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it.

Please feel free to leave comments about the poems even if you are not memorizing them. It's a huge inspiration to me to hear what you think! Here's last week's posting, if you want to leave comments on  William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds ": The Mnemosyne Weekly: Poem Eight. Also, if you're new to the blog, please check out the first Mnemosyne Post. And feel free to suggest poems! I always learn the most from the poems I would have never thought to select myself.

Have a great week, everyone. May our time among the stanzas be filled with joy!

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

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.


  1. Ahhh Thank you Melissa and thank you Walt Whitman! How often we miss the glory of the night-time heavens! Makes me feel truly alive to look deep into the eyes of the night - and further - to share the stars above with true love. Words so worth keeping in memory - to remind us to fall heavenward at night whenever possible and appreciate the scale and grandeur of what's out there.
    I know you'll give Walt a wonderful reading love!


  2. To fall heavenward - I love that. Your comment is a poem too!

  3. I've never read this little jewel. Thank you dear Poet! I just stumbled across your post when searching for a link for Dr. Tyson and voila! You are very kind to place the links in the thread.

    I think we are traveling the same space. I only need to look inside my own heart to see you there.

  4. And you are in my heart, dear poet, my soul friend! I am so happy that you got to read this poem since you had never seen it before.