A Noiseless Patient Spider

Walt Whitman

"A Noiseless Patient Spider" is a lyric poem. A LYRIC poem is a melodic poem that expresses Walt Whitman wrote the poem in the 1860s and published it in the 1871-1872 edition of Leaves of Grass. Leaves of Grass was a continually growing collection of his work that began with the publication of the first edition in 1855. The version of the poem on this page is from the 1881-1882 edition of Leaves of Grass.

Watch this discussion of "A Noiseless Patient Spider."

STEP 2: Read Walt Whitman's "A Noiseless Patient Spider." As you read, think about the following questions:

Walt Whitman believed that the human spirit was reflected nature. How does this poem reflect his belief?

Note that this poem is an extended metaphor. How does the speaker or writer's soul reach out its filaments the way a spider does?

A Noiseless Patient Spider
From the 1891-1892 Edition of Leaves of Grass
By Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory1 it stood, isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament,2 out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. 5

And you O my Soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile3 anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my Soul. 10

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM