Skip to content

From Psalms to Poets: Pondering the Universe’s Majesty in Psalm 8:3-4 and Walt Whitman’s ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer’

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Psalm 8:3-4

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’s ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer’

In a crowded lecture hall, the learn’d astronomer unraveled the celestial mysteries with proofs, figures, charts, and diagrams. Yet, the more he spoke, the more I grew weary and disenchanted, craving a more profound connection to the cosmos.

Unable to bear the confinement of knowledge any longer, I slipped away into the mystical night-air. In perfect silence, I gazed up at the stars, finding solace and wonder in their presence.

As I pondered the heavens, I recalled the ancient words: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”

And so, I wandered beneath the stars, considering the mysteries.