The Spider and Soul in Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider
Works Cited Not Included
In “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, Walt Whitman compares the images of a spider creating a web to catch its prey to his own soul. In the first stanza, he describes the spider creating its web. In the second stanza, he begins to describe his own soul searching for something it needs. Throughout the poem, Whitman is relating the spider to the human soul by showing how both would pursue and capture what they need to continue to exist in this life.
In line one, “A noiseless, patient spider” shows a spider that seems to be waiting for what it is searching for. Perhaps it is waiting for a chance to strike at its prey if it were detected in time. The soul seems to be doing nearly the same thing when Whitman says the soul is “ceaselessly musing” (line 8). Musing is when someone is pondering about something in silence. Both images are being described as moving in careful silence. The spider seems to be planning to trick the prey into being caught. Perhaps whatever the soul is looking for must be tricked into being caught. If both were to let their presence be known, their elusive prey may disappear.
In order for either the spider or the soul to capture its prey, first they both must create a way to trap what they need and trick it into being caught. “It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them” (lines 4-5). These lines are describing the spider while it makes its web. The poet uses the word “tirelessly” to show that the spider must complete its task of finding sustenance in order to survive. The repetition of the word “filament” shows how deliberately the spider is creating the web. These two words show that it must not be affected by anything else in its environment because this may cause it to loose its prey. The words “launched” and “speeding” could mean that the spider must act quickly in order to catch its prey. The verbs “venturing, throwing, seeking” (line 8) may show how the soul searches for what it needs to survive. To venture is to do something daring or perhaps something that may involve danger. “Throwing” shows the soul, much like the spider, casting its lines as a connection to whatever surrounds it in order to find what it is looking for. “Seeking shows that the soul is looking for what it needs. Perhaps what the souls is looking for is what it needs to make the person feel complete.
The poet also decides to describe the spiders’ and the soul’s surroundings. The spider is seen on “a little promontory” as “it stood isolated” (line 2). The spider also “Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding” (line 3). The poet is showing that the spider, though the natural world around him carries on without end, the spider does not notice it. The spider is isolated by the fact that he is so focused upon obtaining his prey, that he does not care...