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What human experience is the spiders activity compared to?

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jacoevee | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 9, 2011 at 3:05 AM via web

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What human experience is the spiders activity compared to?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 9, 2011 at 7:52 AM (Answer #1)

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I believe that you are referencing Whitman's poem "A Noiseless Patient Spider" when speaking about a spider's activity and the comparison to human experience.

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, out of itself;/ Ever unreeling them- ever tirelessly speeding them.

Here, the spider is waiting, looking out at the world around it. The spider, as notated by the word "patient", waits- it does not want to waste its filament by sending it out prematurely. The spider wants to know everything about its environment before it makes its move.

Once the spider feels content with letting go of its precious filament, its lifeline, it releases all it has kept confined.

What this says about human experience is that mankind should become more conscious of their surroundings, wait patiently like the spider, before dispensing energy to make their move.

The poem states how different mankind is than the spider. Mankind, instead, does not stand patient and silent. Instead, mankind, without end, muses, ventures, and throws ("ceaslessly musing, venturing, and throwing") hoping to find a foothold, an "anchor."

Whitman is suggesting that mankind acts too quickly to its surroundings. Instead of making the jump blindly, Whitman hopes that mankind will look to the spider as an example.

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