Analysis Of A Noiseless Patient Spider By Walt Whitman

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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 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 things it needs to. Yet, what are the things the soul needs to connect? Understanding that the speaker is a reflection of the poet, makes it arguable that the soul therefore is also a further extension of the poet. Based on this argument it can be claimed that the soul is casting out lines of poetry trying in any method possible to connect them. The speaker then speaks in the future tense, using three individual metaphors to emphasize that although the soul faces more difficulties than the spider

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