Memorizing Mondays: When I heard the learn’d astronomer

by MW Cook

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.

– Walt Whitman

I first heard this poem about a year ago and I didn’t get it.  Not that I didn’t understand it, that is, the words of it.  I just didn’t get it.  Then I saw it quoted on an episode of Breaking Bad.  I get it and it’s lovely sauce.