Summary Of A Noiseless Patient Spider

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Walt Whitman wrote a poem about making connections from the perspective of a spider and his soul. Using both literal and figurative observations he shows the conflicts each face and how both overcome their difficulties. Why would his soul struggle to make connections? How will observing a spider help with this challenge when both are so different? What has impelled the poet to have an observer watch the spider? What significance does writing in the literal and then the figurative tense have on the poem?
The interesting thing about this poem is the perspective it’s written from. The poem starts with an observation about a spider that appears to be a well suited for its surroundings, “A noiseless patient spider, / I mark’d where on a little promontory
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The reason why the poem beings this way is significant to the rest of the stanza and the poem as a whole. For one reason, using “A” before the other adjectives, informs the reader that the spider is isolated and separated from the mass. For reason two, describing the spider with personified qualities: “noiseless” and “patient” reveal two things about it. One, that it is a “virtual absence of noise” and two, “able to continue a course of action without being daunted by difficulties”. This analysis becomes meaningful in the second line, when the speaker remarks that the spider stands alone in an isolated environment. The qualities of the spider set it up to be well adapted for the environment that it finds itself in. This particular adaptation is something the speaker can distinguish about the spider. The act of distinguishing the spider is done when the speaker “mark’d” where the spider stood. This awareness is once again reinforced in the following line as the speaker repeats himself, “Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,”. Again the speaker makes it a point to note that the spider is once again alone, but a new understanding about is this isolation is presented. The spider is no longer in a place of isolation, …show more content…
The speaker moves from the literal observations of the spider into the figurative observations of the soul. The speaker also moves into the present tense as he regards his soul. He regards that the soul stands much in the same way as the spider did, however the soul is entrapped within its own isolation, “And you O my soul where you stand, / Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,”. From the start of the second stanza, the differences between the spider and soul are almost immediate. The soul is not singular thing nor does it have the traits necessary to adjust and fit it into its world. The lack of these qualities leave it detached and isolated from the observable masses the speaker mentions. The speaker’s soul appears to be unequipped and missing the knowledge necessary to perform the actions needed to connect it to its surroundings, “Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,”. The soul appears unable to stop second guessing itself (which could be a reflection back to the poet himself). The use of “O my soul” in the beginning and the end of stanza two gives the poem a visual that the soul is surrounding itself and detaching from the rest of the poem. Unlike the spider (who has no personal conundrum), was naturally able to launch “forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself”, the soul fails to have one unified method to connect

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