Walt Whitman and Breaking Bad
November 7, 2012 | Miscellania
I have recently become addicted to the masterpiece that is Breaking Bad (like I’ve said, I like being late to trends). I started watching it roughly a month ago, and I am already almost half-way through season four (so please don’t post any spoilers in the comments or I will find you and deal with you appropriately).
A scene that continues to stick with me comes from season three, in which Walter White’s lab assistant Gale recites “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. It’s a beautiful scene in a strange sort of way, a moment of slightly awkward yet passionate poetry recital turns into a bonding moment for the two men. The poem and Walt Whitman continue to be important plot devices throughout the series, but it is this moment that has the most impact for me:
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman
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 lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; 5
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.