The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“A Noiseless Patient Spider” is a short poem, its ten uneven lines divided into two stanzas of five lines each. The initial focus of the poem is a spider that is being observed by the speaker. The use of the indefinite article “a” in the title and the first line individualizes this arachnid, separating it from the representative mass and emphasizing the personal nature of its efforts. The adjectives “noiseless” and “patient” anticipate the poem’s tone of pathos.

This poem is written in the first person, which is typical of lyric poetry; less common, however, is that the speaker directly addresses and converses with his own soul, which occurs in the second stanza. The reader observes the one observing (the speaker), the one observed (the spider), and the one addressed (the soul).

“A Noiseless Patient Spider” begins with a description of a common and relatively insignificant incident: A spider, all alone on a little promontory, quietly and tirelessly casts out web-threads from its spinnerets into an illimitable, inestimable emptiness that is all it can see; quickly, untiringly, continuously, it attempts to examine and define this significant, palpable unknown that binds it. In this first stanza, the speaker, a seemingly dispassionate viewer of this scene in nature, is almost indiscernible, the only reference to his presence being the words “I marked.”

The designation that the spider “stood isolated”...

(The entire section is 489 words.)