When I Heard The Learn D Astronomer By Henry David Thoreau

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The transcendentalist era was a type of enlightenment in the 1830’s and 40’s in which people became inspired by numerous authors who taught of the importance of being an individual in a conformist culture. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a graduate of Harvard, is credited with initiating the crusade against conformity, and one major theme of the transcendentalist movement is the idea that life is about learning and growing through experience. Walt Whitman conveys this precise message in his poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” and the essay “Walden,” by Henry David Thoreau, captures the essence of transcendentalist ideals by discussing the author’s experience with abandoning his worldly possessions and living in nature for two years. Through these pieces, it is shown that in order for one to find meaning and purpose in life, one must personally…show more content…
In both works, when people accept others’ advice without any questioning, those individuals can never amount to anything in life. Whitman’s poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” criticizes the intellectuals who believe they have a greater understanding of life simply because they have a higher education. In the poem, Whitman demonstrates his lack of respect for scholars who think highly of themselves because of their supposed intelligence. “When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room, /How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick” (Whitman 4-5). Unlike the intellectuals of his day that believed intelligence was to be gained from the reading of books and the studying of charts and graphs, Whitman believed that meaningful knowledge was something that could only be expanded through experience. Whitman encourages readers to think for

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