Patient Noiseless Spider

Patient Noiseless Spider

Close reading of Whitman’s ‘Patient Noiseless Spider’ in approximately 300 words Whitman’s poem ‘Patient Noiseless Spider’ is divided into two stanzas; the first is about a spider and the second, a comparison between the spider and the human soul. Themes of space, time and infinity are explored and compared in the poem, both in terms of the spider’s surroundings, and in terms of the human soul. This is communicated by Whitman’s diction; his choice of word length tends to be long, “promontory… easelessly… unreeling… tirelessly”, which echoes one of the poems central themes; time, more specifically, long periods of time. Whitman’s choice of diction in the first stanza reflect those in the second; he uses the phrase “vacant vast surrounding” to describe the spider’s surroundings in the first stanza, before using “measureless oceans of space” in the second stanza to describe the human soul as a physical entity. This demonstrates the comparison between humans and spiders.

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Whitman also compares the spider launching its filaments for web production into empty space to the human soul’s quest to connect the spheres; “seeking the spheres to connect them”. This is a reference to Plato’s music of the spheres and the cosmos, which is about understanding the concept of time and infinity. By comparing the spider and the human, Whitman is giving the spider human qualities, this is a technique known as anthropomorphism.

Each stanza, although five lines long, is made up of a single sentence which reflects the poems exploration of the relationship between time and infinity by the giving the stanzas a sense of infinity; there are no full stops to break them up so in their own context they can be incorporated as conveying a feeling or sense of infinity. Whitman’s choice of diction can be interpreted on different levels owing to different definitions


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