Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

  • Not a critical or scholarly text but a reading text for a seminar

  • Gratefully adapted from various web sources

Walt Whitman

(Whitman Style Sheet)

A Noiseless Patient Spider

Whitman (1819-92)

daguerrotype (early photo) from
first edition of Leaves of Grass,
self-published when Whitman was 36

A Noiseless Patient Spider

[1]    A noiseless patient spider,
[2]    I marked where on a promontory it stood isolated,    [promontory = a projecting area (of land?)]
[3]    Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
[4]    It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,  [filament = thread]
[5]    Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

[6]    And you O my soul where you stand,
[7]    Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
[8]    Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
[9]    Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold,   [ductile = pliable, flexible]
[10]  Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.  [gossamer = filmy substance of cobwebs]