Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Running and Walt Whitman





(Thanks to the Walt Whitman Archive for the image)


I had a great pre-dawn run the other day where the stars were about as brilliant as I have ever seen. Then I vividly recalled a Whitman poem from some long-forgotten literature class. I know that when many of us see poetry anywhere we can't hit that DELETE key fast enough.....but please read on anyway (it's short). 


And read it slowly (aloud is preferable), as though you were reading to a child--that's the secret to understanding poetry.


Old Walt sure had his stuff together:

When I Heard the Learned 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.


I'm into science and data (my education is in the life sciences, and my present job is pretty techhie), but the astronomical facts pale in comparison to the pure magic of night running and simply gazing in awe at the stars.

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