Transcendentalism In Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider

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Then, just when Whitman thought his luck had turned and Leaves of Grass started selling well, his publisher went bankrupt and someone stole the printing plates of the third edition. That printer is believed to have pirated 100,000 copies of the book (“Walt Whitman”, 1998). Indeed, Whitman’s poetry did not gain much fame until after his death, but towards the end of his life he gained recognition in Europe (“Walt Whitman”, 2002). Nevertheless, “in the years following Whitman’s death, Leaves of Grass has become one of the most highly regarded collections of poetry ever written. Millions of readers have enjoyed the book, and it has influenced several generations of poets” (Koelsch, Nelson, and Berliner 396). One poem added to Leaves of Grass …show more content…
After the Civil War and the publication of the fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, Whitman’s poetry took on themes of the soul, death, and immortality. “A Noiseless Patient Spider” carried with those themes, accentuating the spiritual elements (“Walt Whitman”, 1998). The form is free verse, and the plot follows a spider spinning a web and a soul trying to make connections in the world. The deeper meaning requires drawing similarities between the spider and the soul. Both have to put some of themselves out there into the world to make their mark, whether the mark is a web or a friendship. Like the spider launching filament out of itself, people have to project a part of themselves (their time, their kindness, their energy, or themselves entirely) out there to change the world. A few themes of the poem are spirituality, isolation, exploration, and the natural world (Koelsch, Nelson, and Berliner 407). Imagery is a key element of the poem. “On a little promontory, it stood, isolated;” and “in measureless oceans of space” are excerpts that allow the reader to be as transfixed as the speaker. Even the title features imagery, giving the reader the picture of a “tiny creature sitting perfectly still, waiting for its moment” (Gundersen, “Noiseless”). Additionally, the entire poem is an extended metaphor. The spider is a metaphor for the soul, and the comparison allows the reader to better visualize an unseen soul. Repetition in the poem like “It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;” adds depth and allows the reader to picture and feel the movement. Finally, Whitman uses the apostrophe with “And you, O my Soul, where you stand.” Directly addressing the soul makes it seem more tangible (Koelsch, Nelson, and Berliner 407). Whitman is known to end poems on an optimistic note. His

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