what in this poem compares to real life
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In real life the scholarly astronomer taught with the aid of figures, charts, diagrams, and tables. Soon the poet felt grew bored with the lecture, and he left the classroom to go outside and breathe "the mystical moist night-air" and to "look'd up in perfect silence at the stars."
Whitman tells us that the true way to really understand nature is not to look at it scientifically, but rather allow yourself to experience its mysteries. Whitman can feel what he is experiences, but to be stuck in a room listening to someone lecture about them makes him "tired and sick."
The scholarly astronomer lectured with the aid of figures, charts, diagrams, and tables. Soon the poet felt tired and so he escaped from the lecture room and went outside, where he breathed "the mystical moist night-air" and "look'd up in perfect silence at the stars." Whitman is saying that the true way to understand nature is not scientific but intuitive and mystical. The poet can feel and understand the processes of nature when he is experiencing them, but listening to people lecture about them merely makes him "tired and sick."