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Author Topic: Solving Walt Whitman's meteor mystery  (Read 368 times)
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« on: June 06, 2010, 08:38:54 pm »

Precursor to one of Well's damnable Martian cylinders, no doubt.

The rare event described in the poem 'Year of Meteors (1859-1860)' is called a 'meteor procession,' Whitman's own words. It's when a grazer meteor breaks up and the pieces travel together as if in formation.

 In the July issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, a team that includes astronomers and a literary scholar, all from Texas State University, details the existence and nature of the rare event, in which meteor fragments crossed the sky in stately, synchronized fashion.

The heavenly display is described in the poem "Year of Meteors (1859-1860)," in which Whitman writes of the tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War. He touches upon the hanging of abolitionist John Brown and the ascendancy of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, and he makes two references to astronomy: "The comet that came unannounced out of the north, flaring in heaven," and "the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and clear, shooting over our heads."

A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
      Two thousand pounds of education
        Drops to a ten-rupee jezail
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