A former student of mine posted this poem on his faceboob account after having seen/heard (I don’t know) it on the tv show, Breaking Bad. I think it was Breaking Bad. I told him I had probably shown it to him back in class (5 years ago) because I love the way it illustrates the power of iambic pentameter. He, of course, didn’t remember that. What an impact I had as a teacher. haha. I was always amazed at anyone who could pull off a very natural sounding iambic pentameter. I was actually impressed with anyone who could write in iambic pentameter in general. Don’t even get me started on Shakespeare. How that man could keep it up for one monologue much less all the plays and poems he wrote over his life is no less than mind boggling. Go ahead. Try to write a couple lines.

I’m not sure when I started reading Whitman, but it was late as was most things in my writing life. I’m not even sure who pointed out this poem and its last line. It was one of those things where I thought to myself, “Ah, Walt… There you go.” It’s perfect because it matches what’s going on in the poem and it’s perfect because, after seven lines of meandering free verse, it smacks you in the face with that rhythm. Anyway, check it out. It’s one of my faves.

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
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.