The Spider and Soul in Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider

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The Spider and Soul in Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider
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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
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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 what is going on around him. In other words, the spider is not detracted from his quest by his surroundings to continue his own life. The poet then writes that his soul is “Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space” (line 7). The poet, like the spider, is surrounded by the outside world. The outside world contains many different ideas and
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