Poetry / The English Teacher / The Social Network

‘I Don’t Like Spiders & Snakes’

But, seriously! What GOOD are these creatures??? (I’m sure plenty of good, else, why are they here!?!?!?) Still, the slithering stealth of the crafty serpent, and the hairy, creepy legs of spiders and their webs of death!! Well. I don’t like them. (insert na-na-na-boo boo here)

I didn’t like Walt Whitman (you know, famed American poet credited, along with Emily Dickinson, with blowing the traditional poetic form right out of the 19th century literary water) for years. (sometimes those parenthetical comments really confuse a sentence, don’t they? Consider them my own version of poetic license…) I found Whtiman’s poetry too much, much of the time, and therefore spent little time investigating his works. And then, wouldn’t you know, I discovered his greatness — in his love for President Lincoln; in his boundless capacity for loving the potential greatness of America; in his love and exaltation of humanity. I discovered “O Captain! My Captain!”, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (oh, I love that one!), “I Hear America Singing.” I rediscovered the wonders of “Song of Myself” and Leaves of Grass. 

Worse, I discovered the intricate, lyric beauty of “A Noiseless Patient Spider.”

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,

Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,

Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.


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 ductile anchor hold,

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


I still hate spiders, by the way. But this poem? Traps me in its web every time.

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