The poem falls into two sections, even though they are not indicated on the page. In the first, the narrator is inside the lecture room, listening to a well educated astronomer, a "learned" man, explain the universe in terms of mathematics, with his charts and diagrams to be added, divided, and measured. In the second part of the poem, the narrator goes outside alone. The poem is developed in the contrast between these two settings.
Inside the lecture room, there is "much applause" by the audience, but the narrator begins to feel "tired and sick." When he removes himself from the room and from the astronomer's lecture, however, the change of setting suggests a change in his feelings:
. . . I wandered off by myself,
In the mystical moist night air, and from time to time,
Looked up in perfect silence at the stars.
The narrator has placed himself in a romantic natural setting that is beautiful and appealing with the reference to the "mystical moist night air." In this setting, he does not see the stars as objects on charts and diagrams. He views them "in perfect silence" in the heavens, their natural setting. The silence itself is an natural element of beauty that contrasts the noisy lecture room.
The poem can be interpreted as expressing a romantic view. The beauty, mystery, and grandeur of the universe cannot be grasped intellectually, only spiritually.