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Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

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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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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  • Veteran Poet - 3,403 Points Savita Tyagi (11/2/2014 8:05:00 AM)

    Read this poem some time back. it left the impression that I can't forget. Just superb. Once I saw a spider in its web. The atmosphere was as such that I ended up writing that impression. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 33,788 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (11/2/2014 2:21:00 AM)

    A noiseless, patient spider and, Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul. A comparison 'tween soul's act and the act of spider and insisted keep patience, be patient..and this is the best thing.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 503 Points Paul Brookes (11/2/2012 8:43:00 AM)

    I'm beginning to think Mr Straw doesn't like any poetry from the past. Mind you his own poetrys not much to write home about in my opinion.

    Of course those who can do and in this case can't criticise. Nowhere in the poem does Whitman say a spider has thought or conscious actions so I'm not sure where he got that from. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Leonid Gonzalez (11/2/2012 7:09:00 AM)

    I bought a volume two of his leaves of grass hard bounded, at a garage sale complete with the hard case. It is truly a wonderful book. I bought it not knowing who he was, and was introduced to the world of poetry. To be uninfluenced by todays society, technology, and world events, to be able to write poetry such ad this. Our world ad we know it is so small compared to theirs back then. To be unifluenced by today. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (7/30/2012 1:52:00 PM)

    To the rude Olivarez who does not have the manners (or I suspect the intelligence) to define why my comment is stupid: Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, —seeking the spheres, to connect them... Man connects himself to the universe consciously, the spider does it unconsciously - there is no comparison. It is OK to be a fan of a poet, but not to the extent that you will not hear an ything against him or her. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Lasalle (7/19/2012 2:28:00 PM)

    What feels like ambiguity central to the reflective nature of the meaning draws upon a collective sense of concentration central to word crafting, the comparative nature commemorates the idea that even the tiniest
    of slightest out of sight objects are able to create a force within their own multivariate. The conscious
    prospect reflecting upon the subconscious reasoning reassuring oneself the universe is what we make it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 10 Points Abhishek Tiwari (11/2/2011 11:51:00 PM)

    Spiders with its infinite patience have always been a source of inspiration..
    The little arthropod conquers its surrounding., and makes a space for itself..
    and our soul always surrounded yet so marooned, also tries to find a space for itself! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 356 Points Juan Olivarez (11/2/2011 3:50:00 PM)

    I am surprised that Kevin Straw's stupid comment is still there after two years. You would think he wouldbe embarrassed enough to remove itby now. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,747 Points Dr. A.celestine Raj Manohar Md (11/3/2009 5:35:00 PM)

    Like the Spider's tireless engineering feat for existence in a material world, the human soul needs to find a suitable anchorage with God for a meaningful divine existence through repeated attempts and perseverance until success smiles.
    Dr John Celes (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Harmon (11/2/2009 8:51:00 AM)

    Whitman makes his comparison between a spider and, specifically, the human soul. The use of the word 'soul' points directly to the religious/spiritual aspect of the human condition. His reference to 'seeking the spheres', as in 'music of the spheres'(aka: the design and process of the heavens) , seems to confirm this. My understanding here is, for Whitman, in this poem, the human soul searches for meaning(s) (religious/spiritual, or 'absolute' connections) , with the world or universe like the spider throws out threads of web to connect them to material surroundings. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (11/2/2009 5:47:00 AM)

    The comparison is inaccurate. The spider weaves its web by instinct – its web is planned and constructed like a building from unchangeable instructions within it. Perhaps man is like that too, but not the man that Whitman draws in his second verse. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 294 Points Ramesh T A (11/2/2009 1:38:00 AM)

    The spider's web bridge is well compared to love's bridge of thoughts and feelings connecting the soul! (Report) Reply

Read all 25 comments »

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