need help analyzing "a noiseless spider"
He's comparing his soul to the spider's web. Do you have a specific question about the poem?
A Noiseless Patient Spider
by Walt Whitman
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, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.
I have to do a presentation on Walt Whitman. I need to choose a poem and paraphrase it. But I'm not good at understanding the meanings. Can you suggest a good poem from Walt.
Surely that can't be by Whitman, it doesn't have a catalogue in it. :-( or do I mean :-) I don't get on with his style I'm afraid. Was he religeous? an obvious thought on this one is the angels rejoicing at a soul reaching heaven, while his son mourns on earth. Justa suggestion off the top of my head as I've never studied his works.
O Captain is referring to the death of Lincoln.
I think Linda meant the spider, but the catalogue whooshed over me.
When paraphrasing a poem, don't be afraid to take it all literally, whether that is the poem's intention or not does not matter, but you can start that way, then go a little deeper with each understanding you grasp. My husband is always afraid to take a poem literally because he is so sure that a poem is never intended to be literal, but always symbolic, etc.
No, I did mean O Captain. As for the catalogues, its how I think of his works, just read section 15 of Song of Myself, the part that starts:-
The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
The carpenter ..... and so on for nearly 3 pages.
If thats not a catalogue, what is it?
Linda, go to the Classical Poet List of this website. Go to Whitman and read some of his other work. I think you'll find that this cataloging is the exception, rather than the rule.
Great poem (spider), regardless. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Debbie.
I'd only read the Dover Thrift Edition of his selected poems and the overwhelming impression from that was the cataloguing. I will give him another go, I'll let you know how I get on with him.
Speaking of Dover Thrift Editions, arn't they great? I have managed to accumulate quite a nice little library because of them.
Marian. I'm glad you liked the poem. Can you give me your impression of it?
Okay, Debbie. My impression(s) of the spider poem:
1. Blessedly short -- doesn't go on any longer than it has to.
2. Nice example of what it's describing (meta-poem?) - the speaker's sense of "my soul" being like the spider is an EXAMPLE of the kind of "catching somewhere."
3. Goes nicely on my bulletin board next to "Design" by Robert Frost.
4. Nice use of INGs (speeding, unreeling, musing, venturing, throwing, seeking). The cumulative effect of the INGs is the message that BEING MEANS DOING, even in the realm of spirituality. You don't wait for it, you have to go for it.
5. Nice contract between "gossamer thread" and "anchor" ... "isolated" and "connect."
Right on, and Whitman just cannot resist repetition any any poem, no matter how brief. Filament, filament, filament; surrounded, surrounded; till, till till.
True, true, true.