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When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer


by Walt Whitman

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer Dissatisfaction Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #1

the learn'd astronomer; (line 1)

The speaker expresses his dissatisfaction using irony, which is when you say something other than what you mean. Sarcasm is a common form of irony. He doesn't really think that the astronomer is so "learn'd," at least concerning the important things in life.

Quote #2

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
before me; (line 2)

The phrase "before me" really signals his dissatisfaction here. He feels under siege by all those intimidating-looking numbers. They seem directed at him and not just the crowd.

Quote #3

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; (line 5)

You might think that his dissatisfaction could be easily explained: he's bored! But Whitman doesn't want us to leap to this simple conclusion. He says that his negative reaction is "unaccountable" – basically, a mystery. Notice that his unhappiness manifests itself in physical symptoms.

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