From Leaves of Grass, 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 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.

From a book on poetry of Physics, Math, & Astronomy (where I saw the above poem wroteup)


faint in deep space immense as a brain down through the thought- shaft it drifts, a wale of light to which the retina opens and is entered time and space dis- appearing as the mind recedes to a soundless flickering somewhere deeper than consciousness where, permanent as change a whorl of light rides, wheeling in darkness

~ Richard Ryan

(b. 1946)

This poem (the Whitman one) has always bothered me. It's Yet Another echo of the tired refrain about how science takes all the wonder and mystery out of the world.

Takes it out?!

Those stars! Each one is an enormous ball of gas, changing elements one into another, glowing with the pure energy of transmutation. Unimaginably huge: bigger than a million Earths, yet so distant that to us they appear as points. Literally points, of no physical dimension. The light we see from some started traveling toward us when our grandfather's grandfathers were alive.

All of which is a puny, utterly insignificant corner of a universe that extends unimaginably beyond what we can see.

Mystery and wonder! I got yer mystery and wonder right here, pal.

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