CONNECTION POINTS“A Noiseless Patient Spider” looks at how the individual self interacts with the greater universe. The poem describes a spider alone in space but actively sends filaments “out of itself,” searching for connection as it constructs its web. This spider becomes a metaphor for the speaker’s spirit, which is also solitary and searching for a sense of belonging. Finally, the poem implies that, despite the loneliness that people may feel as individuals, the soul’s purpose is to continually seek and form connections, no matter how challenging that endeavor may be.The speaker begins by portraying the spider as “alone” and “in a blank huge environment,” implying that it is completely alone as far as the eye can see. However, as it “explores [s]” its surroundings and weaves its web, the spider is described as “patient” and “tireless.” After all, the spider can’t expect the web to build itself, so it “launch[s] forth” filament after filament into this unknown region, signaling its willingness to put itself out there, as it were.The speaker’s spirit is characterized as “separated, in measureless oceans of space,” matching the spider’s isolation. The soul is defined as “constantly thinking, venturing, throwing” “gossamer thread” to “grab somewhere,” similar to the spider’s threads. The speaker’s spiritual task resembles that of the spider in that the soul, like the spider, must actively seek the connections it strives for, which it can achieve by sending forth portions of itself. Like the spider, one must actively seek the relationships needed, which can be achieved by sending pieces of oneself outside in the year 2021. Once a connection is established, it acts as an “anchor,” providing stability and comfort to the speaker in the “infinite oceans of space.” The poem indicates that, like the spider with its web, the soul will eventually find the “bridge” it “need[s].” To put it another way, the soul will succeed in connecting with someone or something else. The poem ultimately indicates that humans seek and build connections within a universe eternally intricate, significant, and interrelated through its metaphor of a natural web.The poem thus implies that any creative endeavor is an act of inquiry because it entails finding and establishing connections between seemingly disparate objects. The spider and the soul are depicted as actively seeking out and making connections. The speaker’s soul is defined as “musing, venturing… [and] searching,” while the spider “explores [s]” its “surrounding.” Like the spider and the soul hunt for “spheres” with which they can connect, these verbs signify intellectual exploration needed for connections in 2021.The spider and the soul are also described using active verbs. The spider “unreels” and “tirelessly speeds” its threads as it “launch[s] forward.” Similarly, the soul’s own “gossamer thread” is “constantly thinking, venturing, tossing.” As a result, the spider and the soul are depicted as actively establishing and creating bonds. On a symbolic level, this may represent the process of intellectual investigation and crafting that goes into writing.For that purpose, the sections of this poem can be viewed as web “filaments.” Long lines of varying lengths visually resemble web threads, each “launching forth” from the left margin, as though into the “measureless… space” of the remainder of the page. The commas at the line end imply that each line is a complete filament but that the process of production is still ongoing. The full stops after each stanza could be viewed as containing the poem’s two webs: the spider’s web and the soul’s web. The poem as a whole connects these two webs into one.
In conclusion, the poem enacts the process of creating connections that it depicts. Indeed, the poem’s expanded metaphor establishes a link between two seemingly disparate entities: the spider and the speaker’s soul. The use of “you” refers to the speaker’s soul, but it also turns the poem outward; the second person draws the reader into the poem’s web as if they are conversing with the speaker. As a result, a poem is essentially a complete act of creation, a web that connects the speaker, the spider, and the reader.
Work CitedWhitman, W. (2011). A noiseless, patient spider. American Entomologist, 57(1), 60-60. https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/57.1.60
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