Poem: When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

This is a wonderful poem by Walt Whitman where he explores how the formalization of science and nature robs it of it’s mystery and wonder. If you’re a programmer who has done any time at a University, you’ll recognize Whitman’s sentiment.

It first appeared in the “By the Roadside” section of the standard 1892 edition of Leaves of Grass.

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 the 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.

Invictus – Poem

For the warriors out there who are still awake and working at 1:45am on Monday morning, here’s some inspiration to keep you going. This is a spectacular poem by William Ernest Henley written in 1875. The title means “Unconquered” in Latin. When I read this poem I get chills, the hair on my arms stands up and I feel the need to either kill something or create something.

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Thought for the day

I’m wearing a t-shirt today that I had made at Zazzle with a Lawrence quote on it. So I’ve been reading a bit of Lawrence’s writing and stumbled across this extract from Apocalypse and the Writings on Revelation. It captures a sense of euphoria I’ve had all week long:

For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own very self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters.