Write at least six sentences discussing the influence of Transcendentalism on Whitman's, "When I Heard the learn'd Astronomer".

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As with all poetic interpretations and understandings, I think that one can find different answers to the question and it's important to make sure that all poetry is understood and reinterpreted on a personal level.  With this in mind, I think that six sentences on Whitman's poem and Transcendentalism can look similar to this:

1)  The Transcendental theme of self- wisdom can be seen when the speaker leaves the classroom to understand the natural world of astronomy through a subjective focus.

2)  The Transcendental idea of individuality is evident when the speaker does not need to fully listen to the speaker, but rather finds an individual path to follow.

3)  The Transcendental belief of non- conformity is evident when the rest of the class stays and the speaker leaves the classroom setting.

4)  There is an emotional understanding of the world in Transcendentalism and this is evident in how the speaker of the poem interprets content through an emotional frame of reference.

5)  The beauty and glory of the natural world as something that is part of the Transcendental movement is also present in the poem, where wonderment is evident in the natural beholding of it.

6)  The devaluing of science, a major part of the Transcendental movement, is evident in the poem, where a major theme is that individuals do not need formal scientific processes to appreciate the beauty in the world.

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