Notes on "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer"

Topics: Literature, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poetry Pages: 2 (251 words) Published: April 10, 2013
American Lit. BLK D
20 October 2012
Notes on "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer"
Title prediction
I believe the title exposes the all-around idea of the poem which is the narrator’s point of view while he listened to a learned astronomer

Scan for meaning
It may be his retelling of that time; when he heard the astronomer, in which he includes references and things he’s learned since.

Define unfamiliar vocabulary
* learn'd – educated

Speaker - who is s/he? What is his/her tone?
The speaker is the narrator, and his tone is nostalgic, but not nostalgia for the astronomer but for the night sky.

Message of the poem?
The message of the poem is how excessive teaching can be boring to people who do not comprehend, which leads them to find other distractions that please them.

Literary devices. How do they affect the message of the poem? The repetition of the first 4 lines ensures the reader of the narrator’s reminiscent tone of the event. His diction is very antique, but it adds to the spectacle of the poem. The rhythm of the poem is very lucid and fluid, which allows the reader an easy read.

Evidence of Romanticism &/or Transcendentalism
* nostalgia for the past
* concern for individual freedom
* love for the beauty and natural landscape
* journey was from the city (the lecture room) to the world of nature * appreciates/celebrates individualism
* belief the mind can understand absolute truths without the use of sentences or lessons of authorities or institutions
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