Walt Whitman's Stars


The night sky has been the muse for writers and artists for centuries. Walt Whitman believes that one can learn just as much by observing the night sky personally instead of listening to a lecture. Do you agree? Go out and sit under the stars for your next journal, and see what you learn about them.

Student Journal:

Kaitlin’s Stars (pdf)

Literary Connection

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
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.

—Walt Whitman, 1865

Anaphora is the repetition of the first words or phrases in lines of poetry for emphasis. Here, Whitman repeats “When” to magnify his pleading, exasperated tone. The repetition of consonant sounds is literary device called cacophony. Cacophony brings harsh sounds that suggest discord.

Downloadable PDF