Here's the miraculous email (I should have told Chris Lott it was OK to post):
Subject: Danger, Will Robinson!
That robot was never very helpful, was it? And it looks like I wasn't either, or at least not very clear--I meant that Whitman's attitude in "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer" was dangerous for poetry, not for science. Dangerous in that it closes off a way of writing seriously about the world, an analogue of which was once available (through the Bible and the Book of Nature) to poets up until and even into the Enlightenment. There's a reason poetic ambition has shrunk (in both senses) from Milton's desire to justify the ways of God to Men. I think the new cognitive sciences, based on Darwinian theory, might provide a way back into the garden.
Need I say that I'm not accusing Whitman of a lack of ambition?
BTW, Chris has been on a tear, lately. Read his message to Ron Silliman, the peculiar response from Ange Mlinko, and Chris's generous and funny reply to that.