American Nature Writing and Transcendentalism in A Noiseless Patient Spider
Nature writing can be defined as fiction or nonfiction prose or poetry about the natural environment. It encompasses a wide variety of works, ranging from those that place emphasis on natural history facts to philosophical interpretation. Nature writing includes poetry and essays of solitude or escape, and is very closely related to transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is a system developed by Immanuel Kant, based on the idea that, in order to understand the nature of reality, one must first examine and analyze the reasoning process that governs the nature of experience. One example of a transcendentalist writer is Walt Whitman. (details – talk briefly about what Whitman discussed about when he wrote the following poem)
In Walt Whitman’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, he mirrors a small spider to the human soul. In the first line of the poem, Whitman has already given us plentiful, yet subtle, information about the main character of the poem, the spider. Calling it noiseless, from the narrator’s perspective at least, is saying that the spider is so small in comparison to the narrator that its movements cannot be heard. The other defining quality of the spider, its patience, personifies the spider in a way so that we can better relate ourselves to it later in the poem. He then goes on observing the spider as it tries to create its web, putting emphasis on the spider’s isolation. In a repetitive way, Whitman describes the spider’s actions of trying to build the first bit of its web. Its isolation and constant try to succeed makes the spider seem relatable to us in the sense that the human experience can be much like this at times. The narrator then shifts his perspective to his soul, in relation to the spider. He makes the connection that we too are in a vast space, isolated, weaving a metaphorical web in life. Whitman uses the simplicity of a spider’s web spinning to discuss the abstract journey of the soul, a prime example of nature writing in American Literature.
Nature writing is often frequently written in the first person and incorporates personal observations, as well as philosophical reflections, upon nature. In “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, Whitman does exactly this. He critically analyzes the spider he is observing and articulates its actions in such a way that he can personify the spider’s experience to be viewed in comparison to our metaphysical self. Whitman uses this format of analyzing and synthesizing his thoughts to make what he wants to say in his poem clear to the reader....