I Heard the Learned Astronomer

PosterĄG Rex Chiang at 19:27:33 12/23/97 from c445-2.svdcc.fju.edu.tw

The 8-line poem vividly points out the two different ways to learning, two totally different attitudes towards all phenomena in the universe. The learning experiences of the speaker clarify that firsthand experiences are superior to theories; the secondhand knowledge-the passive tense, "was shown"-is not as good as the firsthand one-the active tense, "Look*d up"-.
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,
The author uses a lot of scientific terminology, such as "proofs," "figures," "add," "divide" and "measure," etc. and the longer and longer sentences to describe the dull and fragmented introduction to heaven bodies from the astronomer. What else, the author made several pauses in the midst of the sentences in order to produce the effect of the difficulty of connecting with the context by reading them.
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.
The back 3 lines become the contrast because of the fluency. The words are full of emotion and truth, like "mystical," "moist," "night-air," "perfect silence," "stars" and so on. The phrase-perfect silence-fully expresses that the speaker adores stars as the Chinese saying goes, "Soundlessness is better than soundness." And the poem ends in "stars"; just suited the meaning.


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