When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer (Explanation ("By myself"…
When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer
Love of nature and the mans response to it
Rebellion against academics
Man is good and nature is wonderful
ruined by society and institutions
Reacted against intellectualism and spirituality
Make people corrupt and sick in the brain
Poets and philosophers
Move away from this - dont be tempeted by society and science
Movement in 1820s and 1830s
Intellectual - deep down - tells you what to do
Understand nature by being in it and feeling it not seeing charts and diagrams
Single stanza - free verse - no poetry rules
Stuck in a stuffy lecture room vs magical night
Person must separate himself from the crowd to experience life
"Proofs", "Figures", "Columns", "Charts", "Diagrams", "Add", "Divide", "Measure", "Lectured
"Tired and sick"
Cant explain it - wasnt inspired
Felt exhausted by the lecture
His own time - not restricted
Wants to experience what the stars really are
Power of an individual
"Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars"
Doesnt need words or diagrams
Doesnt believe in science
The poet is actively involved in what the astronomer is saying.
Poet has registered the words being spoken
The astronomer is a very well-read, clever, intellectual person who knows a great deal about his subject
Mystical - cant be explained - beautiful and magical
He is bored - has listed everything he experienced
First 6 lines
These are packed full of facts not of the stars themselves but of all the ways that the information about the stars is gained. A scientist uses measurements and maths to discover facts about the stars and draws up diagrams etc to show the results. In a way this is what the title suggests but actually one learns nothing about the stars, rather more about the poet
Inversion of "sick and tired"
The cumulative effect of so many facts and details has made the poet tired, first and foremost, rather than sick
Contrast between the two parts
First section - diction
The first section is very repetitive. Many lines begin with "When I" and it is composed of a long list of factual words such as "ranged in columns" and "to add, divide and measure them". In line 6 the words "much applause" occur but they are presented in a very factual way as well. So the diction in this section is straightforward and factual. The tone is matter-of-fact, in keeping with the matereial
Second section - diction
The second section is more varied and not strict or rigid in its diction. It includes participles like 'Rising and gliding" which indicate movement as opposed to a static list presented to people who are "Sitting". Alliteration occurs in line 9: "mystical moist night air". This repeated "m" sound is quiet and expansive in contrast to the short factual words of the first section. Moreover the word "Mystical" indicates something full of magic and mystery, something which has no definite answers but which creates a special attractive atmosphere unlike the known values of "Proofs". Finally the "Perfect silence" in line 10 is in contrast to "Much applause"
First section - line length and punctuation
The lines are long and full of commas which divide up the lists. This makes the lines read more definitely and briskly.
Second section - line length and punctuation
The lines are shorter with few commas. The reader automatically slows down when reading them.