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.
Last night I spent some time playing around Star Walk on my iPhone making sure I was ready for a short presentation I’ll be doing today. It reminded of this poem by Walt Whitman. I like Whitman’s poetry in general, but this is a particular favorite. It is simple for Whitman–short, straightforward, but still profound. I so relate to that antsy feeling when I’m overwhelmed by something and just have to GET OUT (and, goodness knows, math can do that to me pretty darn quick), and then there is one of my favorite phrases of all time, “the mystical moist night-air.” And, always, the stars.