In Walt Whitman’s 1860’s lyric poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, this poem was written during the 1860’s and published in the 1871 – 1872 editions of “Leave of Grass”. Whitman depicts an equivalent relationship between a spider and an individual. I believe the spider symbolizes the speaker’s mind/soul, and he speaks to as though he is talking to someone else. The speaker uses the poem to illustrate a comparative relationship between what seems to be a quest for spiritual knowledge or enlightenment and the construction of a spider’s web. The spider represents the speaker’s mind/soul or consciousness, and the actions that the spider takes, such as selecting a place to build a web, as well as physically linking the strands of the web together, represent both the physical and spiritual journeys of his mind or consciousness to find a higher level of spiritual knowledge or enlightenment. The completion of the web represents the end of the spiritual journey, although the poem does not end with the completion of the web. Instead it ends with the spider continuously and tirelessly trying to link all of the strands of the web together, representing the struggle of the speaker to find spiritual enlightenment during his course of life.
“A Noiseless Patient Spider” was during a time of great political, cultural, and social change, which may have been why Whitman wrote the poem. The poem may merely be a description of Whitman’s voyage so far during his life and his failed attempt to discover the meaning and purpose of life or spiritual enlightenment. The precise part of the poem which talks about the spider tirelessly and continually unreeling the web and speeding up the process could be symbolic of the ever developing and changing world that Whitman lived in, which caused the speaker to have to adapt with the changes and new challenges that came about to find spiritual enlightenment. Ultimately, these changes in surroundings must be overcome if one is to find spiritual...
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