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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Poetry Friday--"A Noiseless Patient Spider"

Despite some of them having a ghastly appearance, I try not to dispatch spiders because they keep other annoying bug populations in check. And sometimes, I even spend a little time watching before capturing and releasing them outdoors. Here's a spidery poem by Walt Whitman, which I particularly like for the line that contains "filament, filament, filament, out of itself." The words perfectly describe the spider letting out its silk--you can almost feel the jerky movement.
A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

from Leaves of Grass found in Complete Poetry and Collected Prose [811.3 WHI]

Illustration by Arthur Rackham courtesy NY Public Library Digital Collections.

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  1. Not a spider fan myself, but I do love this poem and the interesting juxtaposition between the subjects of the two stanzas. Thanks for sharing with Poetry Friday!

    1. I'm not a big spider fan, either, but I've worked to overcome my aversion and to look at them with a more discerning eye.

  2. LOVE this poem. The metaphor is so perfect!

    1. Yes, it is, and he doesn't beat it to death!