When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman

It’s budget-planning season for lots of people I know. That’s the time of year when goals and strategies developed using Excel spreadsheets are translated into pie charts and graphs and imported into scintillating Power Point presentations. Here’s a poem for you to contemplate the next time you’re sitting through such a presentation:

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts, the diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the learned 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.